Article

Marriage and Divorce

Nicholas Wolfinger

in Sociology

ISBN: 9780199756384
Published online July 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0031
Marriage and Divorce

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Marriage and divorce have been written about for thousands of years—both are prominently discussed in the Bible—but only became routine subjects for scholarly scrutiny in the 20th century. Sociology has been home to the largest amount of research: conceptualizing marriage, divorce, and the family as demographic phenomena; studying social institutions; and providing sites for interpersonal interaction. Predictably the latter has captured the attention of most psychologists writing on marriage and divorce. Economists generally joined the party later on, particularly as a result of the Nobel Laureate scholarship of Becker 1993 (as cited under Classic Works). Historians started to take an interest in marriage and divorce as the subfield of social history took root. Together these disciplines have produced a multifaceted portrait of marriage and divorce as social, economic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, historical, legal, and religious phenomena. These lines of inquiry have been greatly spurred by two developments. The first is the ascendance of multivariate analysis and the availability of national data on families. The second comprises the dramatic changes in marriage and divorce in the 20th century: the burgeoning importance of love and personal satisfaction as motivations for marriage; the dramatic surge in the divorce rate (and, notably, the larger number of children growing up with divorce); and the delays in marriage concomitant with the rise of alternative family forms such as cohabitation and unwed parenthood. All of this has been grist for the social-scientific mill.

Article.  9594 words. 

Subjects: Sociology ; Comparative and Historical Sociology ; Economic Sociology ; Gender and Sexuality ; Health, Illness, and Medicine ; Population and Demography ; Race and Ethnicity ; Social Movements and Social Change ; Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility ; Social Theory

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