Examine the reasons for changes in divorce rate since 1971.
Divorce has been an increasing trend due to numerous reasons such as changes in attitude, changes in law and changes in the economic position of women.
In 1941, the grounds for divorce were widened meaning that ‘irretrievable breakdown’ was allowed as grounds for divorce. Irretrievable breakdown means that a marriage stopped working, but there is no blame on the people within the marriage; the marriage simply broke down and the people within that marriage were no longer happy with each other. This lead to an increase in divorce because previously couples who did not love each other had no specific grounds for divorce, such as adultery, and this is why the divorce rate doubled in 1972.
In 1993, divorce rates were at the highest they had ...view middle of the document...
People used to view divorce as shameful, the church condemned it and would refuse to marry people who had been divorced. However, divorce us now seen as bad luck for those involved rather than shameful, and is also seen as a normal part of life. People accept others decisions to end an unhappy marriage. The New Right sees high divorce rates as undesirable because it undermines the traditional nuclear family. They believe that divorce create a welfare-dependant underclass of females that leaves boys without an adult male role model.
Secularisation is linked to the declining stigma attached to divorce. It was previously the church who was most against divorce, but the influence of religion in society is declining so the church’s views on divorce bears less weight in society. Because of secularisation, the church has become more accepting of divorce, as condemning it would be bad for them economically. Some churches will marry divorcees and so people are no longer put off divorcing.
Finally, the change in the economic position of women has changed. In 2005, 70% of women were working, meaning that they are not financially dependent on husbands. Women who are on minimum wage are supported by welfare, so are still not dependent on the income of their partner. Because of this, women can now petition for divorce without being unable to support themselves. Women can earn nearly as much as men and are doing well in education to get a good career. Feminists see high divorce rates as desirable because it means that women do not have to endure unhappy marriages, and the patriarchal dominance of men and the home.
In conclusion, the rising divorce rate is down to society changing, people have become more aware that divorce isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and can ultimately lead to people being happier. Religion no longer has a big influence over society and women are able to financially support themselves.