Relationships and the Family

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Lilly
  • Created on: 04-01-13 23:15

Changing marriage and cohabitation patterns

  • Patricia Morgan (2003)

-Believes tat the institue of marriage is under threat from a range of factors: -people marrging later, -growth and incresing acceptance of alternatives such as cohabitation. -Declining fertility and birth rates, even in marriages. -Rising divorce rates.

1 of 10

Reasons for decline in marriage

  • Changing social attitudes which see marriage as less socially desirable then in the past and living outside of marriages as more acceptable
  • Decline in religious beliefs (secularization), weakening commitments to marriage as an institution
  • Increase in cohabitation
  • Greater emphasis on Individualism (Modernity, Beck & Beck-Gernsheium)
  • 'Empty shell marriages' (Ronald Fletcher) are no longer accepted

-- However, the decline doesnt mean a decline in a commitment to long-term relationships

2 of 10


Cohabitation= the act of living together and having sexual relations

Patricia Morgan (2003)

  • Sees cohabitation as part of trend where marriage is going out of fashion
  • Rather than being a prelude to marriage, she believes it represents an increase in the number of sexual partners and frequency of partner change.

Jean Chandler (1993)

  • Disagress with Morgan
  • Sees cohabitation as stable



3 of 10

Modernity, Freedom and Choice

Colin Gibson (1994)

  • Links increased marital breakdown to modernity
  • Individual competition and free-markey economy have placed increased emphasis on indiviudalsim
  • Individuals persue personal satisfaction, accustomed to ideas of consumer choice and fulfilment coming from such choice.
  • Marriage treated like other consumer products and if it isnt providing satisfaction it is discarded




4 of 10

The Divorce Reform ct 1969

- Divorce is now more socailly accepted, 'empty Shell marriages' (R.Fletcher) are no longer accepted.

Colin Gibson (1994)

  • Believes secularisation loosened rigid morality, which used to make divorce morally unacceptable.
  • he also argues that society lacks shared values which may operate to stabilise marriage.

The Divorce Reform Act 1969

  • Brought into effect in 1971, passed under Labour government.
  • It meant that fault in the marriage didn't have to be shown to get a divorce, time in mediation was required.
5 of 10

Reasons for increasing Divorce

1. Women more financially autonomous- better childcare, benefits, child support

2. 'Empty shll marriages' no longer accepted

3. Greater rights of women

4. Cohabitation is more socially accpeted

5. Divorce laws are more liberal

6. Some people are more likely to get divorced, they include

     -young people

    -mixed race marriages

    -mixed religion marriages

    -people with divorced parents 

6 of 10

The progression in divorce laws

1857- Matrimonal causes act

  • Idea od matrimonal offence created, such as adultery

1971- Divorce reform Act

  • Main grounds for divorce was now 'irretrivable breakdwon' of marriage rather than actions of one spouse

1996- Family Law Act

  • no longer necessary to prove irretrivable breakdown, simply had to state the marriage had broken down. Mediation was required before divorce was finalised.
7 of 10

Sociologist's conclusions on Divorce

Robert Chester 1985

  • Vast mjority of pople remarry after they divorce, suggests it is the particular marriage that many people are rejecting than the idea of marriage

Jennifer Somerville 2000

  • Vast majority of people still get married
  • live in household headed by married couple and extended kinship networks remain strong
  • Simply been a decline in institue of marriage



8 of 10

The changing life cycle

Talcott Parsons 1954 (Functionalist)

  • saw people as moving through distinct age groups with different social roles associated (indicated with *)
  • The life cycle= the idea that there are stages in ones life through which they pass.
  • The stages are:
    •    Birth *Socialisation
    • Childhood
    • Adolesence *child begins to gain independence
    • Youth
    • Parenthood
    • Middle age
    • Old age *loss of important social roles
    • Death


9 of 10

The changing life course

Jane Pilcher 1995

  • No universal life cycle because: -not everyone passes through every stage (parenthood) -ageing is experienced differently within and between socities.
  • Therefore uses life course- defined as 'socially defined timetable of behavoirs deemed appropriate for particular life stages with any one society.'
  • Life course is affected by life expectantcy, which is higher in Western countries




10 of 10


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

See all Sociology resources »See all Families and households resources »