Changing family patterns Flashcards Preview

Sociology- the family > Changing family patterns > Flashcards

Flashcards in Changing family patterns Deck (27)
Loading flashcards...

Describe the change in the pattern of divorce.

Divorce rates have increased significantly since the divorce reform act of 1969, according to the ONS.


Name the different contributors to the increase in divorce.

Changes in the law
Declining stigma and changing attitudes
Rising expectations of marriage
Increased women's financial independence
Freminist explanations


Explain changes in the law as an explanation for the increase in divorce.

The grounds for divorce have been widened and it is also cheaper. There is also more legal equality between the sexes.

The 1971 Divorce Act widened the grounds of divorce to include 'irretrievable breakdown' which doubled the divorce rate almost immediately. There are now several ways for couples to end unhappy marriages.


Explain declining stigma and changing attitudes as an explanation for the increase in divorce.

Divorce is now more socially acceptable than it was in the past. It is now viewed as being unfortunate rather than shameful.


Explain secularisation as an explanation for the increase in divorce.

Secularisation refers to a move towards non-religious values and ideas. Due to secularisation, the church, which is traditionally opposed to divorce, now has less of an impact on couples deciding to get a divorce although religious communities still maintain low rates of divorce, illustrating the role of religious values in determining divorce rates.


Explain rising expectations of marriage as an explanation for the increase in divorce.

People now expect more from a marriage than they did in the past, which may have increased divorce rates as it takes more for someone to be satisfied with their marriage than it used to. This is linked to the decline in marriage being about duty and it being more about romantic love. In modern society, traditional norms have broken down and we are more individualistic and self-interested.

Giddens argues that modern relationshipsa re built on intimacy, closeness and emotion/ He calls this 'confluent love', which only lasts as long as partners find satisfaction and fulfilment. This contrasts with the sense of duty and economic dependence that were traditionally seen as being the glue which holds couples together.


Explain women's increased financial independence as an explanation for the increase in divorce.

Women are now more likely to be in paid work and anti-discrimination laws have been introduced as an attempt to narrow the pay gap, meaning women are more likely to be able to support themselves financially following a divorce. Marriage is now less of an economic necessity, and women don't feel they need to tolerate a bad marriage for the sake of being financially stable.


Explain the Feminist explanations for the increase in divorce.

Feminists argue that marriage remains patriarchal and women are forced to bear the dual burden/triple shift.
A study of 3500 British married couples after the birth of their first child found that divorce was less common when there was a traditional division of labour with women staying at home. However, within the couples with a traditional division of labour, the more husbands helped with housework and childcare, the less likely it was for a divorce to occur, suggesting that the contribution of a father stabilises marriage regardless of the mothers' employment status.

Radical feminists argue that the increase in divorce represents that women are becoming more conscious of patriarchal oppression.


Explain how the different explanations for the increase in divorce rates tie in together.



Explain the change in the pattern of marriage.

According to the ONS, marriage rates have decreased since the introduction of the Divorce Reform Act of 1969.

Fewer people are marrying and marriage rates are currently at their lowest since the 1920s.

There are more remarriages than there were in the past.

People are now marrying later, with the average first marriage rate in 2018 being 31.5 for women and 33.4 for men which has been rising since the 1970s.


What are the reasons for changing patterns in marriage.

Changing attitudes to marriage
Declining stigma of cohabitation or remaining single
Changes in the position of women
Fear of divorce


Explain cohabitating couple families.

A cohabiting couple family is a family which lives togehter but the couple are not married. In 2018, cohabitating couple families were the second largest family type at 3.4 million (17.9%)

The number of cohabitating familes continues to grow faster than married couples and lone parent families with an increase of 25.8 % from 2008-2018.

This might be due to housing become more expensive and couples being forced to live together earlier.


Explain the relationship between cohabitation and marriage.

Cohabitation increases and marriage decresases however it doesn not simply act as a substitute for marriage. Some couples treat cohabitation as a step to take before marriage and otehr cohabitating couples may have no intention of getting married. People may have a few serious partners who they cohabit with before they get married; this is called serial monogamy.

For some couples, particularly younger ones, cohabitation is chosen as an alternative to marriage due to the older connotations of marriage such as it being seen as being patriarchal. Heterosexual couples are now also aloud to have a civil partnership which they may choose as an alternative to marriage.


Explain same-sex relationships.

The numbers of same-sex couple families have increased by 53.2 percent from 2015 to 2018. This is linked to the introduction of same-sex marriages in 2014.

Attitudes in the UK towards same-sex marriage have shifted significantly with 50 percent of people in 1983 saying same sex relations are 'always wrong' as opposed to only 22 percent in 2012. This might be due to changes in cultural norms and values and a reduction in traditional beliefs such as those imposed by the church.


What did Allan and Crow suggest about sam-sex couples.

Many gay poeple have made 'chosen families'- ie friendships that have the characteristics of kinship networkds. This is often as a result of distance from birth families.

Allan and Crow aruge that same-sex partnerships have had to negotiate their commitment and relationships more than heterosexual married couples which may have made them both more flexible and less stable.

Not all gay people are positive about the idea of gay marriage as some see it as being heteronormative. This means gays might be less likely to marry and rather a partnership instead.


Explain one-person households.

A one person household is when an individual lives on their own. It is estimated that in 2018 there were just over 8 million in the UK. Those in the age group of 45-64 are the most likely to live alone, with more men likely to live alone (although this pattern is reversed for 65+)

The number of young people living alone has falled due to the costs of living, with imany young people remaining in the parental home for longer.

There are also ethnic variations in lving alone- for example it is less common amongst those from Asian backgrounds.

Not everyone living alone is single- there are lots of people 'living alone together'.


Explain the trends in parents and children.

In 2017, 48 percent of births were to parents who were nto parried or in a civil partnership and 67 percent of htose were to parents who lived together.

Women are having children later and having fewer children- more women are remaining childless.

Lone parent families make up 21 percent of families with dependent children and are mostly headed by women.

Children in lone parent families are more likley to live in poverty.

The increase in lone paretn families might be due to th increase in availability of divorce or more people not marrying as it makes it easier for people to leave a relationship. Women are more often granted custody of children which is why these families are largely headed by women. They might also be left by their partner when pregnant and so had to look after the child themselves.


Explain the New Right view on lone-parent families.

Murray sees the increase in lone-parent families as being indicative of the growth of hte underclass- a group characterised by illegitimate children, benefit dependency and crime.

The groups are the outcome of a generous welfare state which creates a dependency culture along with with declining moral standards.

Murrays solution to this is to reduce welfare benefits.

This can be critisised as blaming single-mothers and not acknowledging how hard they work and not helping them with the situation.


Explain reconstituted families.

Reconstituted families now account for over 10 percent of all families in the UK.

An increasing number of children in reconstituted families experience 'co-parenting'.

De'Ath and Slater identified a number of challenges faced by reconstituted families such as children being pulled in 2 directions, strained relationships between children and step-parents and step-parents resenting children from the previous relationship.

Some of the tensions experienced by stepfamilies might be the result of a lack of clear social norms about how individuals in such families should behave.


Explain ethnic differences in family patterns.

Black families are the most likely to be lone parent families with 24.3 percent of them being so.

Asian families are the most likely to be 'other' household types (21.7%) which is likely due to them being extended families. They are also the most likley to be married or same-sex civil partnership couples (47%).


Explain the extended family today.

According to Parsons, the extended family declined due to the introduction of industrial society in which families did not function as a unit of production and it made more sense to live in smaller clusters.

Willmott aruged that the extended family remains important depite being geographically dispersed.

Among some ethnic gorups, it is still common for extended families to live in one household.

Longer life expenctancy means that grandparents may play an active role in grandchildnen's lives.


Explain the beanpole family.

The beanpole family is the result of two demographic changes: increased life expectancy and smaller family sizes.

This produces a vertically extended by narrow 'family tree' there is considerable contact between grandparents, children and parents and children but fewer aunts, uncles and cousins and potentially less contact with these.

Despite the rise of the beanpole family, many people still feel an obligation to help their wider extended kin.


Explain the New Right perspective on the high divorce rate.

The New Right views divorce as being undesirable as it undermines the traditional nuclear family and creates a burden for society by creating more lone-parent families that require state involvement.

The Centre for Social Justice report 'Fractured Families' reported that a child being brought up in a one parent family headed by a lone mother were more likely to experience behavioural problems, perform less well in school, need more medical treatment and engage in more negative behaviours during adolescence.


Explain the Feminist perspective on the high divorce rate.

Many feminists see the increase of divorce as being positive as it means more women are breaking free from the patriarchal nuclear family. This is supported by the fact that unreasonable behaviour is the most common reason for women-initiated divorces.

Liberal feminists are less positive about divorce and see it as evidence of continued inequality.


Explain the Functionalist perspective on the high divorce rate.

Functionalists are ambivalent about the the high divorce rate. It is not necessarily a threat to social stability. People now have higher expectations, they aren't prepared to put up with unhappy marriages and are increasingly demanding. Functionalists argue that some people are willing to go through a number of partners to achieve a satisfying marriage.


Explain the Postmoderist perspective on the high divorce rate.

These sociologists high divorce rate shows that individuals have freedom to choose their own life course which is positive. People are under less pressure to conform to traditional goals and divorce can be regarded as part of a lifestyle choice.

Beck notes that there is a natural clash of interest between the selflessness required by marriage and the selfishness encouraged by individualisation.


Explain the personal life perspective on the high divorce rate.

This approach stresses individual differences. Divorce can cause problems but has become normalised and may represent a positive income. Some divorces end amicably and increase the happiness of all involved.