Essay on Sociology Marriage and Divorce

1885 Words Apr 6th, 2013 8 Pages
Sociology – Family Unit – Marriage and Divorce

Most people argue that the family is in ‘crisis’. They point to the rapidly increasing divorce rate, cohabitation, illegitimacy and number of single parent families.

What is happening to Marriage?
Marriage has increased in popularity, reaching a peak in 1971. Since then there has been a significant decline in the number of marriages, from 459000 in 1971 to 250000 in 2001.

There is a decline in first marriages where neither partner has been married before. But there is a growing number of remarriages, in which one or both partners have been divorced; these marriages constitute 15% of all marriages in 1971 and 40% in 1996.

The average age at which people first marry has steadily increased
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The divorce rate also varies by the amount of time the marriage has lasted. For example, in 1979 nearly half of all divorces occurred within the first 10 years. One investigation (Thornes and Collard, 1979) found that of all marital separations (rather than legal divorces), 60% occurred before the 10th year of marriage.

Social class is also closely related to the incidence of divorce. The divorce rate for unskilled husbands is more than four times that for professionals and for the unemployed, almost five times that for the professionals.

Patterns in Marriage and Divorce
Feminist sociologists see the trends as a sign of the lack of satisfaction provided by traditional patriarchal marriage, with individuals seeking alternative types of relationships and living arrangements.

New Right thinkers have seen the trends as a sign of the breakdown of the family and have argued for a return to ‘traditional values’. They suggest that because of the easy availability of divorce, people are no longer as committed to the family as they were in the past.

Changes in legislation which have made divorce easier but also social changes in which the law reflect are seen as the main causes of the increase in divorce rates.

Have Women Broken up the Family?
The position of women has changed in a number of ways, such as the wife does not have to put up with an unsatisfactory marriage; they are not expected to be socially subservient to their husbands.

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