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Lecture 31 Divorce.docx

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Sandra Colavecchia

Sociology 2U06: Family Sociology Feb. 6 2012 Lecture 31: Divorce Readings - Chapter 8 of Baker - Chapter 32 of Fox – Furstenberg and Cherlin Topic List for Divorce: - Why the increase in divorce? - What does this mean for families? o On children - Furstenberg and Cherlin Why the increase in divorce? - A lot of people have the impression that this is a new phenomenon – rise from the 60s o Based on the fact that a lot of people compare what they are saying in contemporary societies (marriage in the 70s-90s) with people who married in the 50s  The 50s was a weird generation though  Divorced less than the previous or next generations o Big increase since the 1968 divorce act  Extended the means for divorce to include both fault grounds including adultery, prolonged substance abuse, desertion and cruelty, and marriage breakdown grounds – spouses living apart, instead of ONLY adultery as it used to be o 1985 – new divorce act  Instituted no fault divorce o Increased until the 1990s – levelled off o Even before the divorce act of 1968  There had been a steady increase in the number of divorces since the 1800s  Also the case that many couples simply separated informally  Given this reality – we are probably grossly overestimating the increase  We also know that people didn’t live together for as long as they did today in the past – because they didn’t live as long (remarry because he died instead of remarry because you got a divorce) o Our divorce rates comparable to Sweden and the uk  Less than the us  In Canada – slightly more than 30% of marriages are expected to end in divorce  Us – about half o Why do people get divorced?  Changes in legislation makes it easier  Regulations makes it easier financially  Overall decline in men’s wages and in the availability of well-paying jobs  Because real earnings have decreased or remained stagnant since about the 1970a – the economic pressures on couples have increased  Families increasingly relying on women’s labour force participation o When both men and women work full time – this has repercussions for family dynamics  As more and more people get divorced the stigma declines  Peoples’ expectations for marriage have increased  Furstenberg: o American standards are higher and willingness to tolerate is lower o Women in particular have heightened expectations –for themselves and their partners  Including sharing of unpaid labour  With higher expectations there is a greater chance that the marriage won’t meet the needs of both people  The second shift: o A stalled gender revolution  It’s stalled because on the one hand you have women being willing to get into the economic labour market but there is not an equal number of husbands willing to share in unpaid labour and childrearing  Argues this stalled the gender revolution  Difference in expectations again o Many women can end up feeling resentful  Impacts marital satisfaction  Furstenberg and others:  Families are in crisis – you’ve got people on both sides of this debate o Left vs right  Left argue that what we need is gender equality in marriage and economic security in marriage  Right argue that what we need is people being less selfish and individualistic  Despite the idea that people are putting their interests ahead of their kids – Furstenberg argues that few couples divorce easily/rapidly  Researchers find that women initiate divorce more often than men  Doesn’t necessarily mean that women want divorce more than men o Demie Kurtz  “for richer for poorer”  Reasons women give for initiating divorce  Interviewed a bunch of randomly selected women in the us in the 80s who had gotten divorces  20% cited reasons that had to do specifically with gender  Men were described as not knowing how to care – leave women to do all the emotional work
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