Demography

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d)Examine the ways in which laws and social policies affect family life. Laws and social policies have been affecting the family for hundreds of years. They can alter how families look or function either directly or indirectly. Laws and policies can be aimed directly at the family to engineer change, to mould them into a new scheme or to change the way they function (such as contraception). However, family life can also be changed by indirect policies where the family is altered but the policy wasn’t directed at the family but in another area that have affected the family but secondarily.

Marriage, an important part of family life, has been heavily affected by changes in law and social policies. In Britain you are basically free to marry whoever you choose with only a few exceptions. You must be at least 18 years old (16 with parental permission), you must not marry family members, you cannot marry someone of the same sex and you must not marry someone who is already married. This means that in the UK, men are not allowed to have multiple wives as they do in other countries. They are restricted to the typical couple of man and wife. This seems to be trying to restrict the family into a nuclear family. These policies are all direct as they are aimed at changing or restricting what the family can do. However, these policies are not fixed. Currently there is some debate in parliament about whether same sex marriages should be permitted. If a new policy was brought out to favour same-sex marriages, this would change how the family in Britain is structured and functions. It would increase family diversity and the ‘typical’ family life might change.

The changes in law on marriage and divorce mean that family diversity is now increasingly common. Serial monogamy is very common in the UK as bigamy is against the law but divorces are much easier to apply for and receive. This has altered family life as families are becoming more diverse and different....
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