Assess Sociological Explanations of the Increase of the Number of Divorces Since the 1960’s

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Since the 1960’s, the number of divorces has doubled between 1961 and 1969, and again doubled by 1972. By 1993, the number of divorces had reached a peak of 180,000. Since then, the number of divorces has fallen to a number of 157,000. Some couples are seen as more likely to divorce than others, for example teenage marriages are twice as likely to end in divorce; also life expectancy is a big issue in divorce. Couples married for more than 30 years are twice as likely to divorce as they were 10 years age. It has also been recognised that childless couples are more than likely to divorce than couples with children. This relates to the idea of an Empty shell Marriage. An Empty Shell Marriage is where a couple stays together but do not love each other. The couple would stay together ‘for the sake of the kids’, for religious, financial or cultural differences.

Years before 1960, women were not able to divorce their husbands easily. The wife had to prove that the husband had committed a martial crime, and all the husband had to do in order to divorce his wife was to say she had committed adultery. Over the past 50 years women have now been given equal rights to divorce their husband. Although these changes in the law have given people the right to divorce people more easily, it does not give them the right to take advantage of this freedom.

Juliet Mitchell and Jack Goody (1997) note an important change since the 1960’s has been the decline in stigma for divorce. Divorce is now seen as acceptable and couples seem to be more willing to divorce as a means of solving their problems. The fact divorce is now more common normalises it and declines the stigma on it even more. Wilson (1966) claims that the reduce of stigma is a result of secularisation. Less than 50% of marriages involve a religious ceremony and those that do may not be based in a religious institution for religious reasons.

However family patterns tend to be traditional and most people still live...