Sociology : Family : Divorce


  • 1930 - 1990, divorces have increased as a result of legal changes and attitudes.
  • A large increase was observed in 1970 that was associated with the Divorce Reform Act 1969
  • Now divorce rates are decreasing 2003 - 2011
  • People aged 60 and over divorce rates are increasing, the rise is partly driven by the increasing number of people aged 60 and over living in England and Wales - less social stigma
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Reasons why divorce rates are high

Sociak attitudes and secularisation :

  • Society has become less religious and the social stigma relating to divorce has been lost
  • Divorce Reform Act 1969 - no fault divorces
  • Growth in welfare state
  • Increased debt and pressure to have a high material living standard

Nicky Hart :

3 factors to consider:

1. Opportunities to escape marriage - Divorce Reform Act 1969

2. Opportunities for increase conflict and stress

3. Changing values concerning marriage

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Criticisms of these arguments

Allan and Crow :

Suggest that evidence shows a significantly higher number of cohabitations

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Changing values concerning marriage

  • Allan and Crow argue that marriage is a relationship rather than an agreement, couples look for love and satisfaction and recognise marriage doesn't have to last forever.
  • Fletcher argues that people have higher expectations of marriage than before. Those who don't achieve the high level of expectations of companionship and love may be inclined to leave and start again.
  • Goode argues that in the past people married for practical reasons, if partners did not love each other it wasn't a problem. Women are less prepared to put up with loveless marriages.
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  • Divorce Reform Act - 1969
  • Legal to re-marry in churches - 1991
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