By the end of the topic you will be able to:-
Identify key trends in marriage, divorce and
Outline the reasons for changes in family
Write down what ‘divorce’ means to you…
1. What has happened to the marriage rates since 1961?
2. What has happened to the divorce rates?
One of the most significant changes in the
family in Britain has been the increased
changes in the number of marriages and
divorces. The number of divorces rose from
27,000 in 1961 to around 171,000 by 1999 and
by the 1970's it has almost doubled. Britain
has the highest divorce rates in the European
Union. About 40% of new marriages today are
likely to end in divorce, and if present rates
continue, more than 1 in 4 children will
experience a parental divorce by the time they
In your ‘buzz groups’ create a mind map
poster to provide explanations on why you
think divorce rates have risen and marriages
Changes in Law
Declining stigma and changing attitudes
Rising expectations of marriage
Changes in the position of women
Divorce used to be extremely difficult to
obtain in 19th century Britain, especially for
Gradually changes in law have made divorce
1. Equalising the grounds of divorce between
2. Widening the grounds of divorce
3. Making divorce cheaper
When this happened in 1923 there was a
sharp rise in the number of women
petitioning for divorce
Similarly widening the grounds to
‘irretrievable breakdown’ in 1971 saw a
sharp rise in the number of petitions, this
doubled the divorce rate almost overnight!
Divorcees have been stigmatised in the past
stigma has declined and divorce is now
more socially acceptable
The decline of religious influence in society
43%of people with ‘no religion’ were
cohabiting compared with 17% of muslims in
Functionalists such as Fletcher (1966) argue that
higher expectations are now placed on marriage
Functionalists are still optimistic about marriage –
most people do it! People are not rejecting it as an
However…. Too rosy a view?
What would feminists argue about marriage?
Why did people get married pre industrialisation??
What changes have occurred which could
explain high divorces rate which reflect
More likely to be
At work women
feel valued, at
home they feel
better at school
men still don’t do
now that women
are Narrower pay gap
In paid work
Spouses have their
own separate Welfare state
The New Right Divorce is undesirable because it undermines
the traditional nuclear family. Creates an
underclass of welfare state dependent single
Feminists It’s desirable because women are ‘breaking
free’ from patriarchal control!
Postmodernists Gives individuals freedom to choose to end a
relationship because it no longer meets their
Functionalists Does not necessarily prove that the institution
of marriage is under threat. It is simply a
result of peoples higher expectations of
Interactionists Aim to understand what divorce means to the
As we saw earlier few Explain….
people are getting
But there are more
re-marriages in 2005
4/10 marriages were
People marry later
Less likely to marry in
With the decline in marriages and increase in
divorce rate more couples are ‘cohabiting’
Living together in a sexual relationship but
One person household
Same sex couples
Living with parents
each of the above explain why the
numbers have increased.
the statistics in your booklet and
answer the questions
through the section on childbearing and
answer the questions.
Complete and peer assess a range of short
answer exam questions in order to recap
changing family patterns.
Outline a range of skills needed in order to
complete essay questions successfully!
Explain what is meant by the term ‘serial
Suggest 2 reasons why so few lone parent
families are headed by fathers (4)
Identify 2 reasons why for the trend toward
getting married later in life (4)
Suggest 3 reasons for the increase in the
number of divorces (6)
Now peer assess….
Expand on a point
‘for example’ ‘In addition’ ‘furthermore’
‘moreover’ ‘this is illustrated by’
‘However’ ‘this is limited because’ ‘although’
To use a contrasting perspective to evaluate
‘On the other hand’ ‘In contrast to’
1. Always read the question carefully, think about the verb.
What is it actually asking you to do? In most cases for a
24 marks essay the verb will be either assess or
examine. Before you start think about what the focus of
the essay will be, read and use the item!
2. Start off by referring back to the question to show the
examiner you are attempting to answer it. Try to this at
the start of each new paragraph.
3. Use connectives to show the examiner you about to
evaluate – and what does evaluate get you?! AO2!!!!
4. Try to give examples, you also gain marks for
‘interpretation’ that means how you see something!! Can
you make a valid point about it? Can you give your own
5. Use Sociological concepts rather than everyday
language, this gains you higher marks, however
remember to explain them! This gets you even higher