Critically assess the view that an increase in the divorce rate in 1980’s was due to changes in the law. (* - 25 minutes)
The divorce rate is the number of divorces per 1000 married people per year. This number increased greatly in 1923 when 3 laws were changed. These 3 changes were: Equalising the grounds for divorce between sexes
Widening the grounds for divorce
Making divorce cheaper
Widening the grounds for divorce in 1971 has made divorce a lot easier to obtain and produced a doubling of the divorce rate overnight.
I think that the increase in divorce rate has a lot to do with the change in law but there are many different arguments to suggest other reasons as to why there was an increase in the 1980s. These are things such as changes in social attitudes, changes in the position of women, media influence, secularization and also expectations on relationships.
Mitchel and Goody note that an important change since the 1960s has been the decline in the stigma attached to divorce; since the stigma is declining divorce becomes more socially acceptable. This allows couples to be more willing to resort to divorce as a means of solving their marital problems. Because divorce is now more common, it has become ‘normalised’ and the stigma attached has been reduced
Another large part of the increase in divorce rate is the change of women’s position. Since there have been improvements in women’s economic positions it has allowed them to become less financially dependant on their husbands and therefore easier to end an unsatisfactory marriage. The proportion of women working rose from 47% in 1959, to 70% in 2005. The pay gap between men and women has also been narrowed, girls have greater success in education and get better jobs and the availability of welfare benefits mean women don’t need to remain financially dependent on their husbands. These developments and improvement mean that women are more likely to be able to support themselves in the event of...
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