How far would sociologists agree that the increase in divorces rates is a result of changing social attitudes? (12 marks)
There is a lot of debate between sociologists about trends in divorce rates and what factors impact them. The most commonly reached conclusion is that there are multiple elements which cause the divorce rate to rise or fall; however, some are more significant than others.
The divorce rate is the number of divorces per 1000 married people every year. Recent research has mapped out the divorce rate since the 1950s. It shows the divorce rate increase exponentially, doubling between 1971 and 1981, continuing its upward trend, peaking in 1993, with 180,000. However, since 2005, the divorce rate seems to have slowed down somewhat.
Some sociologists argue that the increase in the divorce rate is due to changing social attitudes. They maintain that an increase in the proportion of individuals who disregard the stigma attached to divorce has led to an increase in the number of divorced people. Therefore, they argue, divorce rates have shot up because divorce has become less stigmatised and is fast becoming a norm for some. They point out that celebrity divorces, for example, make divorce more acceptable - divorce becoming more common, the stigma attached to divorce becoming less severe. An example of this is when Princess Diane divorce Prince Charles.
Another aspect of this argument is that changes in social attitudes have led to the average age at which people get married to increase. In the late 1950s, people tended to marry early because that was the norm; and if they didn’t, there was a stigma attached to them for being too old to marry or that no one wanted to marry them because they were ‘undesirable’. However, now that the age at which people can marry has increased, people have realised that even if they get divorced, they can remarry later on in life, regardless of their age. Research has shown that there has been an...
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