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American Marriage in Transition

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Cherlin points out child bearing outside family, changes in household labour division, cohabitation and gay marriage as factors which redefined the structure of marriage as a social intitution (403). Other materialistic trends included “decline of agriculture labour and the corresponding increase in wage labour. the decline in child and adult mortality. rising standards of living.and in the last half of the 20th century, the movement of married women into the paid workforce”(403). These factors along with global events including depression and World War II brought in changes in the sociological understanding of the term marriage to a large extend.
One of the first meaning assigned to marriage was that of a process which legitimises sexual relationship and to have children. Cherlin here provides a comparitive global picture on the understanding of marriage at this context. He notes that this trend resulted in an increase in the percieved importance of marriage among young Americans during the 1950s (403). This trend began to diminish in the 1960s. The median age of marriage in US began to be as it used to be in early 1900s (403). Cherlin also notes that during this perion living together before marriage became more common. Another notable trend during this period was that divorses increased and “same sex unions found greater acceptance”.
The article further talks about the transition from companionate marriage to individualistic marriages. The three vital characterestics of these marriages were. self development. flexible and negoitibale roles within marriages and communication and openness in confronting problems(404). The article provides extensive literature support which suggests similar trends.
Cherlin identifies that a complete deintitutionalisation of marriage occurred in the 20th century. Here the bonding of marriage was not based on the traditional roles as that of raising children. These