Assess sociological explanations of the increase in the number of divorces since the 1960’s
Since the 1960’s divorce rates has been on the increase in the UK. In 2001 the number of divorces stood at 157,000, almost 5 times higher than in 1961. Also 40% of marriages ended in divorce and 7 out of 10 divorce applications came from women. This is a sharp contrast to the situation in the past, where in 1746, only 37% of divorce applications came from women. I will be talking about the reasons for the increase in divorce rates and what theories have to say about this.
The first reason is changes in the law. In the 19th century divorce was extremely difficult to obtain in Britain. However through some gradual changes divorce has become easier to access. Mainly through 3 changes in the law. Firstly divorce was made cheaper, secondly widening the grounds for divorce and thirdly equalising grounds for divorce between both sexes. The main act was the Divorce Law Reform act, which came into effect in 1971, allowed married couples to resort to divorce is marriage no longer worked, and was referred to ‘irretrievable breakdown’. Before couples has to prove that one partner had committed an offence of either adultery, desertion or violence, however from 1971, divorce was available after 2 years of separation.
Secondly Mitchell and Goody note that a major cause for an increase in the number of divorces since the 1960’s is due to a decline in stigma. This refers to a negative label or shame which is attached to a person, action or relationship. In the past divorce was really stigmatised, for instance churches would condemn divorces and would often refuse to conduct marriages which involved divorce. However divorce has become less stigmatised in wider societies and therefore is becoming more socially acceptable. It had become more ‘normalised’ within societies, and rather than being shameful, it was simply regarded as misfortune.
Thirdly secularisation refers to the decline...