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

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

The family structure over the last 100 years has changed dramatically in the UK. Societies more relaxed attitudes towards marriage means it is no longer seen as unusual to be involved in a complicated family structure. For example a Reconstituted family, This is when one or both parents have been married before and had children and have remarried to form a new family structure also known as a step family. Families are no longer just nuclear families, this is a family made up of married parents living with their children. Families now have more complicated structures compared to the debateable desired structure; the nuclear family. Other family structures include cohabiting parents, single parent families, same sex parent families and extended families etc.

The last 100 years have seen changes in legislation, technology, attitudes and expectations these are all factors that have led to many new trends, three being; the growing number of new types of family structures, more females in highly respected and paid jobs and an increase in divorce rates. It is known that 40% of all marriages now end in divorce. There are many possible causes for this trend, one being the (1949) legal aid act and the (1969) divorce law reform act which made divorce proceedings easier.

 Another cause could be secularisation and the declining stigma and changing of societies attitudes towards divorce as more people had more flexible views towards divorcee's as attitudes towards traditional values have changed. For example the idea of the woman having to fullfil a triple shift everyday, this is when the women goes out to work to provide financial support for their family then come home and cook and clean and complete their tasks as a house wife and then also provide emotional support for their family so therefore seen as a theoropist too. This idea was brought about by a sociologist called Benson, increasingly more women are rejecting this stereotype and are expecting more equality from their marriage, this also shows that the impact of feminism has had a affect on divorce rates as women are becoming more financially stable and dont need a husband to support them. Evidently more women are going out to work and more relationships are consisting of duel-earners which is when both male and female work. This is a form of equality but in many cases women are still expected to run the home and cook and clean even though they have been 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. Oppose to the decline in importance of who is the breadwinner, the availability of the welfare benefits to single parents gives the oppurtunity for women to file for divorce knowing that they are going to have some financial help. this encourages women to get out of unhappy or unsafe marriages which therefore causes a rise in single parent families and reconstituted families as single parents then have the chance to find compatibility later on in life.  

Changes in the law and attitudes have clearly made it easier to be able to get a divorce and Britain now has one of the highest divorce rates in Europe and the largest percentage of people in any European nation who have been divorced. Data indicates that the number of couples getting a divorce dropped to the lowest rate for 26 years in 2007.

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The changes in marriage and cohabitation (which is when couples are living together without being married) have contributed to the growing number of new types of family. Two in five of all marriages are now remarriages, this leads to the rise in reconstituted families. Overall Marriage rates have declined as less people are getting married and infact britain now has the lowest marriage rates since 1920. Just like divorce rates increasing because of secularisation, marriage rates could be decreasing because of the decline of importance of religion too. Society now attaches less stigma to cohabitating couples and therefore their is ...

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