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  • 1. SCLY2: Sociology of the Family
  • 2. Changes in the Law
    Divorce Law Reform Act (1969):
    “Irretrievable breakdown of marriage”
    Large increase in divorce as couples sought blameless separation…..
    …..and backlog was cleared
  • 3. Changes in the Law
    Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act (1984):
    Reduced the minimum time in marriage before divorce could commence from three years to one year
    Many “hidden” breakdowns came to court
  • 4. Changes in the Law
    Family Law Act (1996)
    Became law in 1998
    Seen as New Right backlash to liberalization
    Increased minimum time in marriage to eighteen months
    Required counseling before marriage could be ended
  • 5. Secularisation
    Less than 10% regularly attend church
    Marriage vows are seen as less binding
    Roman Catholics have recognized divorce
    Some denominations allow divorcees to remarry in church
    Some faiths (egGreek Orthodox) do not recognize remarriage
  • 6. Change in Role of Women
    Since 1970’s the majority of divorce petitions have been initiated by women
    More women now work (Oakley) and are able to support themselves after divorce
    Much less social stigma attached to divorcees (since 1969 Act)
  • 7. Demographic Changes
    We now live longer and the dangers of childbirth have been effectively removed
    Hence we are married longer and more likely to become disillusioned (Anderson)
  • 8. Cultural Changes
    Marriage was once to do with security and companionship
    It is now more about romantic love (Edward Shorter 1977)
    This makes modern marriages more fragile and can lead to “serial monogamy”
  • 9. Cultural Changes
    Higher expectations lead to greater disillusionment and a demand for divorce (Ronald Fletcher 1966)
    Privatisationmeans that wider kinship ties are less likely to hold marriages together (William Goode 1971)
    The emotional emphasis of modern relationships make them particularly fragile (Dennis 1984)
  • 10. An End to the Family?
    Almost 3 in 5 marriages can expect to end in divorce
    About 3 in 10 children are born outside marriage
    More and more people are choosing to co-habit rather than marry
    There is a small but increasing group of “elective singles” in Britain and the USA
  • 11. But...
    Over 30% of marriages are remarriages
    The majority of children born outside marriage are registered by both parents
    Most of us experience a nuclear family at least once and more likely twice in our lives (Chester 1985)
    The link between single-parenting and delinquency has more to do with deprivation than family structure