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Assess sociologists explanations for the increase in the number of divorces since 1960?

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Introduction

Assess sociologists explanations for the increase in the number of divorces since the 1960's? Society has changed and developed since the 1960's. One of the ways in which society has changed is the increase in the number of divorces. Although this is a fact, there are a variety of reasons and theories created by sociologists that try and explain this increase. One of the key reasons is the change in law, as three new acts have been created that have affected the divorce rate. The main one is The Divorce Law Reform Act 1969, (although it didn't come into affect until 1971) which allowed married couples to acquire a divorce on the basis that it didn't work anymore, refered to as "irretrievable break down." Before couples had to prove that one partner had commited a matrimonal offence: adultery, desertion or violence, while from 1971, they could divorce if they'd been seperated for a minumum of 2 years. The further two acts since the 1960's: The Matrimonal and Family Proceedings Act 1984 and The Family Law Act 1996 have altered the divorce rate. The former increased the divorce rate, as it allowed couples to get divorced after one year of marriage, which could have stopped people working on their marriage, while the latter increased the time before a couple could obtain a divorce to 18 months and introduced compulsory marriage counselling sessions. ...read more.

Middle

They also argue that before divorce, women were subject to domestic violence or unhappy in an empty shell marriage. Therefore, Feminists believe that divorce has increased, because marriage has inequalities that favour men. On the other hand, the New Right, unlike Feminism, believe in marriage and disagree with divorce. They believe that marriage between two hetrosexual people is part of a civilised and ordered society. Also the New Right disagree with cohabiting, as cohabiting couples with children are more likely to split up, which could result in single parent families. Single parent families to them are a negative part of society, as they believe they do not socialise children to the same degree as married couples. Charles Murray, an American sociologist believes that children brought up by single mothers lack a male role model and therefore he strongly agrees with marriage. This social group overall regards divorce as being too easily obtainable and that in the past, couples had to work on their relationship in order to keep their family together for the children. This is linked with law, as The Divorce Law Reform Act 1969 had meant divorces are easier to acquire and therefore The New Right view that because of this, couples have worked less harder on their marriages could be correct. ...read more.

Conclusion

Consequently, the change in social attitudes is a very important explanation for the increase in the number of divorces. However, divorce statistics do not explain or acknowledge empty shell marriages where married couples remain together, but don't love each other. This is usually to benefit the children, but can also be for a number of religious, cultural or financial reasons. When divorce was rarer and viewed as a scandal, more people were likely to have empty shell marriages and this can be shown by the large amount of long married couples who applied for divorce when the law changed. Today couples married for over 30 years are twice as likely to divorce as they were 10 years ago. As a result of the evidence, legal changes were a major reason for the increase. Despite this though, the change in social attitudes is a very important explanation and it is linked with secularisation, because when the church had high influence on society, divorce was seen as a sin. The personal attitudes of people were also different to today. In the past, society was more judgemental and condemned divorce. Overall therefore the main reason for the increase in the number of divorces since 1960 is the change of social attitudes. ...read more.

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