The first sociological question is whether disharmony in a family is exceptional.
For functionalists, a marriage that is dysfunctional must be exceptional, because the family is the bedrock of society, whereas for feminists and Marxists conflict is inevitable in society and projected into the family.
|On a functionalist understanding, family disorganisation - that may well lead to divorce - comes about when there is role failure. In the symmetrical marriage (more shared roles), or in more traditional views of marriage (husband as provider, with housewife as homemaker and principal raiser of children), partners failing to carry out their roles postively lead from role failure to functional failure (theoretical analysis).|
In small groups list what you think could be either the causes or effects of family disorganisation. Consider losses of family members, issues around caring for the elderly or disabled, absence of work, State administered punishment, changes of location for one or more family members, and loss of love.
Causes/ Effects of family disorganisation (drag the mouse):
|How do the above lead to family disorganisation in each case?|
Define in an extended sentence what is meant by an empty shell marriage. This will be questioned afterwards (drag the mouse):
An empty shell marriage is where the marriage partners continue to share common residence but the relationship is over.
The ability to divorce has a history. Note down the key dates and what was possible:
Answer these in a paragraph each:
What was different about the 1969 (implemented in 1971) Divorce Reform Act?
Why does a rise in divorces does not necessarily mean an increase in actual relationship breakdown?
|Look at the change in the following statistics about who was filing for divorce (copy or write these down).|
Proportion of petitions for divorce filed by husbands and wives
1946 - 1984
|Year||Husbands petitions (%)||
Wives petitions (%)
|Suggest sociological reasons why the figures may have altered like this.|
Britain has the highest rate in Europe. One in three marriages end in divorce. Consider reasons for this rise, including changes in religion, the extended family, law, women's roles, women in work (drag the mouse):
Oakley from a feminist perspective considers why marriage is ending now:
|Write a paragraph summarising Oakley's feminist views.|
Write down what kinds of families may increase as a result of greater divorce (drag the mouse):
There are other consequences of the decline of the nucelar family:
Critics of the nuclear family
The nuclear family has failed:
By yet supporters of the nuclear family who agree it is failing (consider the New Right):
Arguments against decline
This is according to functionalists):
Critics of the family argue:
Try some essay planning/ Write a timed essay (choose one):
Assess the arguments involved that a rise in the number of divorces after 1971 does not mean that marriage itself is in decline. (20 minutes essay)
Examine the claim that the increase in the divorce rate since the Second World War has been mainly due to changes in the law. (20 minutes essay)
Statistics hereClick here to see a table of divorces and marriages and Graph hereClick here to see the graph of divorces
|Source: Office for National Statistics http://www.statistics.gov.uk|
|The above can be entered into a spreadsheet.|