Seminar 14: The State and Family Breakdown Patterns of marriage and divorce have altered beyond recognition over the course of the second half of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Before 1857, freedom to remarry could only be obtained by an act of Parliament, by the beginning of the twenty-first century two in five marriages ended in divorce. In this seminar we will consider how the changes brought about by acts such as the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857 and Divorce Reform Act of 1969 changed the experience of marriage and divorce for the British people, and what this meant for family life. Seminar/Essay Questions:
- Why did traditional forms of marriage and family life remain dominant until the 1960s?
- Was ‘companionate marriage’ ever more than an unattainable ideal?
- ‘Marriage for women is almost always a mistake’ (Ann Oakley). Do you agree?
- Is family breakdown a result of the ‘Welfare State’?
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E.B. Silva and C. Smart (eds.), The New Family (1999).C. Smart, ‘Divorce in England 1950-2000: A Moral Tale?’, in S. Katz, J. Eekelaar and M. Maclean (eds.), Cross Currents: Family Law and Policy in the US and England (2000), 363-387. E. Slater and M. Woodside, Patterns of Marriage: A Study of Marriage Relationships in the Urban Working Classes (1951). L. Stone, Road to Divorce, England 1530-1987 (1990). M. Tromp, The Private Rod: Marital Violence, Sensation and the Law in Victorian Britain (2000).