Examine the Reasons for Changes in the Patterns of Marriage and Cohabitation in the Last 40 Years or so

592 Words3 Pages
Examine the reasons for changes in the patterns of marriage and cohabitation in the last 40 years or so. (24 marks) Over the last 40 years or so, there has been a huge increase in divorce which has fundamentally led to changes in patterns of marriage and cohabitation which has overall resulted in an increase in family diversity. There has been an increase in divorce by the actual numbers of divorces rising from 25,000 in 1961 to 146,000 in 1997. This could be due to the introduction of the Divorce Reform Act 1969. This has made divorce easier to obtain which has overall contributed to the decline in marriage. By being able to divorce, members are able to leave empty shell marriages. Feminists such as Kate Millet are highly in favour of this as it allows women to break free from oppression in the patriarchal nuclear family. However, critiques such as the New Right’s Charles Murray would believe otherwise. In Murray’s eyes, the increase in divorce means that there is a decline in the traditional nuclear family; this is a result of breakdown of traditional morals and values. According to Murray, marriage is less supported by the state and allows single parent families to be on benefits which creates a dependency culture. This then offers perverse incentives. Additionally, with the numbers of marriages going down, the amount of couples that cohabit has increased. There has been an estimate that by 2020 there will be 3 million cohabiting couples. Postmodernists like Jeffrey Weeks believes that this is due to the increased choice in morality. Weeks says how personal morality is become an individual choice rather than a set of values influenced by religion or dictated by society. A criticism of this would be functionalist Talcott Parsons’ view. Parsons believes that the family provides two irreducible functions: primary socialisation and stabilisation of adult
Open Document