The traditional, nuclear family consisting of a man, his wife, and their children seems to be history. Today, divorce is considered normal--almost expected--for nearly half of all couples getting married. These days, children may live with either parent or another family member, and same-sex couples are adopting children. Sociological types of divorce include the functionalist perspective, the conflict theory view, the symbolic interactionist position and a communitarian perspective.
Functionalism and Divorce
Functionalists see divorce from a negative, macro point of view. A functionalist would blame divorce on the failure of social institutions as opposed to investigating the individuals involved in divorce. Their view is that institutions have not provided adequate instruction and that marriage partners should conform to a higher societal standard. Functionalism is all about promoting communication, cohesiveness and uniformity. The functionalist view would support traditional and historical family norms to reduce the divorce rate.
A symbolic interactionist examines issues such as divorce from a micro perspective. They would look for problems within the individuals as opposed to society in general. Symbolic interactionists contend that choices are based on learned behaviour. From their point of view, and their way of understanding social issues, symbolic interactionists would say that divorce is a result of two individuals that have been influence by their friends and family members.
According to conflict theory, as a sociological perspective, the main question regarding divorce would be who it was benefiting. Divorce is expensive, for example, when you consider attorney fees, court costs, alimony and child support. A conflict theorist would strive to make people aware that the couple will suffer financially and the government will benefit from taxes. Conflict theory purports that society is at fault for divorce and that individuals are choosing the easy way out.
Divorce from the Communitarist Perspective
Communitarianism is a sociological combination of communism and capitalism. Communitarists seek to create a partnership between the community, government and private sectors. They believe that to rectify the rising divorce rate, families need to return to small communities where their church teaches traditional values. A communitarist is concerned about moral culture and would support the saying: "A family that prays together stays together."
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