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

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Introduction

Rachel Stevens Sociology Question e.) Examine the reasons for changes in the patterns of marriage, cohabitation and divorce in the last 30 years. 20marks Over the last 30 years there has been a significant change in the pattern for marriage, co-habitation and divorce. There are many reasons for these changes that have taken place. For example, since 1971, when a divorce act was introduced, divorce has been more acceptable in today's society. This has slowly increased the figures of divorce at a steady rate. A downfall in religion has also contributed to more people co-habiting before marriage or even instead of marriage all together. There has also been a change in the average marriage age due to factors like women striving more for careers instead of families. The increase of divorce rates and co-habitation has resulted in the two-parent nuclear family (headed by a married couple), to steadily decrease as a proportion of all families. This essay will look at these factors and examine how and why the pattern of them is changing. ...read more.

Middle

This rise in divorce rates has also contributed to the change in co-habitation. Couples in which one or both partners are divorced are the most likely to cohabit. For example, if there divorce has not gone through, cohabitation is an option if they want to live with someone else. For pre-martially cohabiting after divorce, the figure has rise from 20% in 1967 to 84% in 1996. Cohabitation before marriage has now increasingly been considered a norm of today's society. Many people now see it as part of the process for getting married, as a prelude to marriage not an alternative to marriage. Other people see cohabitation as a trial marriage because it provides an opportunity to test the relationship before making it legally binding. Some people even see cohabitation as an alternative to marriage because of the absence of legal ties giving them more freedom to end the relationship if need be. The change in attitudes over the past 30 years has also led to the increase in cohabitation. ...read more.

Conclusion

Particularly for women professional occupations have become increasingly more important to some women than to settle down and have a family. In the past, being single was seen as a negative status. They were seen to have 'failed' to find a marriage partner. Today these views are changing. The term creative singlehood is sometimes used to describe a positive view of singlehood whereby people choose to remain single as a lifestyle option. Women striving for careers and leaving marriage till later in life or not at all is an example of this. In conclusion I have examined many different reasons for why there is an increase in divorce and cohabitation and a decline in marriage. They all intertwine within each other for example, the increase of divorce rates and co-habitation has resulted in the two-parent nuclear family (headed by a married couple), to steadily decrease as a proportion of all families. The changes in attitudes in today's society have changed the appearance of divorce and cohabitation that what use to be unacceptable into a 'norm' of today's lifestyle. Marriage also seems to be far less important to many people than it was 30 years ago. ...read more.

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