Family in crisis
- High divorce rate, cohabitation, illegitimacy and single parent families.
- New Right argue society is under threat - basis of our society is collapsing, time for a return to traditional family values.
- Feminists and Post-mods see changes as result of greater individual choice in relationships and growing confidence of women in particular to reject traditional arrangements.
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What is happening to marriage/civil partnerships?
- Significant decline in number of marriages.
- First marriages have fallen.
- Remarriages rose - 40% of all marriages.
- Average age - 22-30 for women - class differences in age of marriage.
- 65% of marriages were civil ceremonies.
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Reasons for decline in the popularity of marriage
- Replacement of marriage with cohabitation.
- Rise in people living alone and choosing not to marry.
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- Living together as a couple without being married - risen rapidly over the past 50% years.
- Those who have chosen to cohabit as a prelude to marriage - trial pre marriage, process of getting married, not a substitute for marriage.
- Those who have chosen to cohabit as a permanent alternative to marriage.
- Living together no longer seen as a sin.
- Secularisation is closely linked to decline in stigma for cohabitation.
- New Right claim cohabitation is less stable than marriage.
- Fletcher 1988 -
- cohabitation and births outside marriage often conceal what are in fact rather conventional nuclear families.
- Chester -
- cohabiting couples with children form a neo-conventional family.
- Gillis 1985 -
- historical study of british marriage - custom of couples beginning sexual relations and cohabiting once engaged was not uncommon in the past.
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Key Study - John Walliss
- Church weddings in decline - 2002; 85,870 marriages only 33.8% involved a religious ceremony.
- Bruce 2001 -
- secularisation is at an advanced stage - evidence of decline of Christianity as a cultural and institutional force.
- Method - attempt to find out why secular couples marry for the first time choose a religious wedding over non-religious options - personal dimension of the secularisation of weddings.
- Key findings - religious beliefs play small role on wedding location.
- traditional thing to do - idea that church is only place fit for a wedding.
- influence of parents - or others especially when paying for the wedding.
- aesthetic considerations - linked to idea of tradition and feeling that ceremony should take place in a traditional-looking setting.
- Links to key debates - attraction of church weddings seems more related to idea of what is traditional and right rather than any religious content. Few weddings now seen in religious terms.
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