• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Examine the reasons for the changes in the patterns of marriage, cohabitation and divorce in the last 30 years.

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐Examine the reasons for the changes in the patterns of marriage, cohabitation and divorce in the last 30 years. In the last 30 years, the British society has experienced many changes affecting the family. There have been changes in attitudes to and expectations of family life, as well as official changes such as government legislation. Society has been affected by feminism, which has led to increased awareness of women?s rights and freedoms, as well as postmodernism and secularisation. The changes resulting have affected marriage rates, which are decreasing, and more people are now marrying later in life and more than once. More people are choosing to cohabit, either before or instead of marrying, and this is becoming increasingly common in young couples. Divorce rates have also increased in the last 30 years, following changes in legislation and attitudes. As society?s view of a ?conventional family? has changed over the last 30 years, the acceptable norms have widened. In the past, an unmarried woman would be looked down on, as it was expected that women would marry and invest their time in raising a family. If they didn?t, it could be presumed that could they couldn?t find a willing partner, or that there was something wrong with them. ...read more.


When laws relating to marriage and divorce have changed in the last 30 years, they have both helped to shape and influence social attitudes, and also reflected the changes in attitudes that have taken place. The Civil Partnerships Act in 2004 enabled people of the same sex to enter in to a civil partnership, or gay marriage. This has meant that the concept of marriage has been widened beyond previous definition, and provides another option for people who may otherwise have felt forced in to a heterosexual marriage in order to conform to societies expectations. This could have an impact on patterns of heterosexual marriage because people no longer feel they need to fit a certain mould, because the law has changed to be more inclusive. Legislation has also made divorce a lot easier than before and more of an option for many people. In 1984, the law said that rather than being married for 3 years before a couple were allowed to divorce, the time was reduced to one year. The Family Law Act in 1996 said that there did not have to be any fault involved with divorce for it to be done quickly and promoting mediation to make the process easier. This turned the idea of divorce from being that of a failed marriage, and the result of someone?s mistakes or failures, to be being just another part of normal life, an acceptable next step after being married for a while. ...read more.


Social Action theorists for example say that identity is still formed by the family, which first teaches us how to interact with others. Critics say that while society is clearly changing, and this is evident in the patterns of marriage, cohabitation and divorce amongst other things, other sociological theories used in the past to explain these trends such as Marxism and Feminism cannot simply be disregarded. British society?s understanding of the form and function of a family has been changing over the last 30 years, and this has been shown in the rates of marriage falling, divorce and remarriage increasing, and cohabitation becoming a more popular lifestyle choice. Society?s values have been affected by a greater emphasis on individualism and personal fulfilment, as opposed to the traditional values of the Church, which have had more of a role in defining the family in the past. There has been an increase in awareness of equality issues too, particularly with the rise of feminism and gay rights, which have lead to changes in the law such as the Civil Partnerships Act, and legislation to increase ease of divorce. Various sociological theories have attempted to explain these changes, particularly postmodernism, but the fact that 95.1% of British women still choose to marry before the age of 49 shows that while our views on marriage and family life becoming more flexible, they still remain an important part of our society. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Family & Marriage section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Family & Marriage essays

  1. Examine the reasons for changes in the patterns of marriage, co-habitation and divorce rate ...

    75% of the divorces are initiated by women. Since 1967, reliable contraception was made readily available to unmarried woman with the passing of the NHS Act. Effective contraception made it possible for couples to cohabit with little fear of pregnancy.

  2. Examine the reasons for the changes in the patterns of marriage, cohabitation and divorce ...

    Due to the high rate of divorce that are pronounced in the UK, some sociologists have forwarded the idea that British marriage trends ought to be known as 'Serial Monogamy', and this can be understood as an individual who has a number of partners in sequence, although no one may

  1. (a)Outline and explain reasons why patterns of childbearing have changed in contemporary British society.

    working, remaining childless and living economically independent , all of these facts are supported by Statistics such as 'One in five women aged 45 was childless - double the number from 20 years earlier'. Another fluctuation in childbearing is the fact that women are now choosing to bear children at a later age.

  2. Assess the view that marriage is no longer a popular institution in todays postmodernist ...

    largely for economic reasons or out of the duty of pleasing one?s family. Under such circumstances, individuals were less likely to have the high expectations about marriage as a romantic union. By entering a marriage with lower expectations, they were less likely to be dissatisfied by the absence of romance and intimacy.

  1. Analyse how the family structure has changed over the last 100 years

    at work all day too, this is known as the dual burden which shows that inequality still exists and this can cause more conflict in a marriage as women are fighting for equality within their households still and this can cause marital breakdowns which then leads to divorce and less nuclear families.

  2. Examine the changes in the rate of divorce since 1969

    Another act that lead to the respected improvements from 1969, was that women could seek welfare benefits from the state in order to look after their single parent family. This idea meant that women were no longer having to depend on their husbands and if they would not have to stay with him for his money and financial support.

  1. Examine the reasons for changing patterns of marriage, cohabitation and divorce in the last ...

    However, some sociologists will point out that greater freedom of choice in relationships means a greater risk of instability, since relationships are likely to break up. Additionally, sociologists may point out that if people decide to put off marriages due to educational requirements, they may end up not marrying at

  2. Indo-Canadians Dominate with One of the Lowest Divorce Rates Worldwide

    ?My marriage has gone through rough times,? admits Sonia. ?But I would never think about getting a divorce. That would kill my parents. I couldn?t do that to them, and I couldn?t do that to myself. I think that is why divorce rates are so low among Indians.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work