Sociology : Family : Marriage


Definition and Trends

Marriage is an institution that ties two or more people together by legal or customary bonds that establish rights and duties between them.

In the past marriage was based on practical arrangements and social expectations


  • Cohabitation rates have doubled in the last 20 years - decline in first marriages
  • Decline in people remarrying
  • Lowest rate that has been calculated in the UK since 1862
1 of 4

Key ideas about marriage

Beck argues that postmodernity is characterised by increasing emphasis on individual choices or individualisations

Smart and Neale argue that marriage has become more focused on a relationship where parenting is shared. Divorce offers (women in particular) a chance to redefine their relationships and find less oppressive ones.

2 of 4

Women Outside Marriage

Chandler argues we can now choose to remain single in ways that weren't appropriate before. There has been a growth in lone parents who are choosing to live alone with children.

Gordon argues that the position of single women in the 1090's must be placed in the context of shifts in family forms. The options for women include single person households, divorce, communal living and single-aprent families, gay and lesbian couples.

Wilkinson - gender quake

Lambert - F.I.T.T women

Lewis 2012 - Eu and government policy

3 of 4

Marriage and Ethnic Groups


  • For the South Asian community, marriage remains culturally important
  • Around 3/4 of Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are in partnerships, this compared to just over half white women

Gernsheim favours the term multicultural family for mixed race families and recognises that such couples can face prejudice from their own ethnic groups. Chinese women are more likely to be in mixed race marriages than Chinese men.

Westwood talks about the growing resistence of younger generation of South Asians to arranged marriages. South Asians reject the idea that people are made to marry people they neither know or love, pointing out that they have an option to rejectparental choices.

4 of 4


No comments have yet been made

Similar Sociology resources:

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