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Outline Some Of The Major Changes That Have Taken Place In Family Life Since The 1970s And Discuss The Concerns Arising From These Changes.

2385 words - 10 pages

Outline some of the major changes that have taken place in family life since the 1970s and discuss the concerns arising from these changes.In the past many families were similar, as traditional nuclear families were the excepted norm of society. Since the 1970's a number of major changes have taken place in family life. The traditional nuclear family is no longer seen as the norm as many other types of specialist families have developed to best suit the needs of the people within them. Family life is very complex and in recent years sociologists have sort to find new ways to understand it. However with these changes there have also been a number of concerns, which may suggest that not all changes have improved family life.One way in which the family unit has changed since the 1970's is the change in marriage rates. While marriage in the UK is still the majority among families, there has been a decline in the number of marriages, the age in which people are choosing to marry and the duration of marriages. In 1971 1% of all marriages in the UK ended after two years. In 1996 this figure increased to 9%. (Mark Kirby, 2000, p. 58). This suggests that marriage less important than it once was. There are a number for reasons as to why there is a change in marriage. It is argued that because women now have more freedom of choice than they did in the past, they may be choosing simply not to marry. Others suggest that women are now choosing to put off marriage till a later date so that they can focus on their careers and education. Another reason for the change in marriage could be due to the undermining of the need to marry, now that it has become socially acceptable to cohabit or be single, many people choose not to marry. As well as this women are no longer dependant on men to be a 'bread winner' and provide for them. Lorraine Harding (1996) argues that the main decline in marriage occurred around the 1970's due to greater levels of unemployment. Strain may have been put on the 'breadwinner' to support the family causing the breakdown of the marriage. 'On this basis it could be argued that it is not the decline of the conventional family since 1970 that should need explaining, but rather its unusual popularity between 1945 and 1970'. (Mark Kirby, 2000, pp. 69-70)Another major change that has taken place in family life since the 1970's is the increase in the number of divorces. In 1970 80,000 couples got divorced in the UK, that figure has risen to 125,000 in 2003. (Scott, 2007, p. 466) It is argued that this increase is due to the 1969 Divorce Reform Act which made getting a divorce much easier. Women had more opportunity to work and therefor they were less dependent on men. State benefits gave women greater chance of leaving a marriage. (Scott, 2007, pp. 467-469). However with divorce there are a number of concerns that can arise in family life. It is believed that divorce is the main contributor to lone parent families who are considered to be at...

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