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Planning for the topic

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As we noted in the previous section, the main focus of the divorce essay topic is different explanations for rising divorce. It was also noted that these explanations would need to be of the type advanced by sociologists.

Without having done any reading on the topic, can you anticipate what some of these explanations might be?

For example, how might a sociologist working, say from a feminist perspective, explain this phenomenon? What other types of explanations might there be? Is there any explanation you would favour?


Before doing any preliminary reading, a group of students came up with the following types of explanations for rising divorce:

  1. Legal explanations - divorce laws have changed, making it easier for couples to obtain a divorce.
  2. Economic explanations - the economic bases of families have changed. Women are now more financially independent and hence have more freedom to decide their fate.
  3. Religious/moral explanations - marriage is not the sacred institution it once was. Couples are more likely to make pragmatic decisions about what is best for them. Divorce also no longer has a social stigma attached to it.
  4. Feminist explanations - many women have come to feel oppressed by their role in the family; many also have a stronger sense of self-reliance and can imagine leading a life without their spouses.

These are only provisional explanations. In one's subsequent reading, it would be necessary to find out whether they are in fact the types of explanations sociologists have proposed. Whatever the case, this kind of preliminary thinking can provide you with a clearer focus for your reading.

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