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Sociological Theories of Divorce

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 1618 words Published: 18th May 2020

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         Functionalism, symbolic interactionism, and feminism are three of the major paradigms that have different levels on perspectives of the topic divorce. Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage but court or other competent body. (CITE) Not only is divorce a very tough event that occurs in an individual’s life, but it is also a hard journey to overcome. Divorce may be affected and caused by many different aspects of life that include financial needs, personal differences, and lack of communication.

       Functionalism helps us view divorce in a skeptical way, symbolic interactionalism provides us a framework of interaction and feminism defines the gender identity. Therefore, within the theoretical paradigms each view divorce through various fields. Sociologists have used theorists in order to determine views and in this case three major paradigms will be discussed.


Looking in the functionalist point of view, divorce is seen through a skeptical lens.

Functionalism’s level of analysis is based on a macro structure setting. Macro perspective meaning it views social development related to balance and change within society. This is the bonding with society and individuals to justify if society is adaptive. The idea of structure comes into play where human morals are guided by firm arrangements of social relations.  The main focus of this theoretical tradition is shared values and preferences. Within relationships values and preferences are important because the fundamental idea of being together through life and agreeing or disagreeing makes up the foundation of a healthy relationship. In which case, maintaining those shared values and preferences in a divorce makes it easier to know exactly what each individuals goal is.

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         Functionalists believe social systems maintain and undermine social establishment. According to a theorist Robert k Merton, dysfunctional effects the build of insatiability. Relating to divorce it serves as a purpose for which ever situation and story it may be. When divorce is a choice in a marriage, everyone has their own reasons and purposes. For instance, when it comes to divorce a lot of other factuality members are involved which allows employment for the social structure. Although, statistics on divorce have increased over years and generations that has largely impacted and deliberate a society.

        Being a functionalist a solution to the topic of divorce that would help solve the controversies and problems is re-establishing a state of equilibrium. In order to fulfill this, there needs to be balance within lives. Grounding yourself, having a healthy mind set on yourself and finding who you are mentally, emotionally, and physically. Not only focusing on your relationship during a divorce having the support needed is much of a comfort such as friends, family, and peers helps balance that equilibrium. Also, in a situation with having children through the divorce, focusing on the needs and wants helps set goals and challenges in life in order to fulfill. Therefore, re-establishing equilibrium is a solution to divorce in the functionalist perspective.

Symbolic Interactionalism

         Viewing symbolic interactionism is an alteration away from the macro setting into the micro level of analysis. Symbolic interactionism is the framework of interaction within individuals on a daily basis. The interactionalists believe that behavior is the always changing that depend on different factors which have become common in the interactionalist view. Divorce is tied into the aspect of being influenced by their surroundings and environment. Within this theory individuals ae known to be active agents with goals in life. The main focus on a symbolic interactionalist is meaning and interactions. Causes of divorce surrounding symbolic interactionism are social media, friends and family, and society itself.

        Furthermore, a main theorist of symbolic interactionalism is Max Weber. Weber is the most influential sociologists. Social construction and queer theory a key aspect involved in symbolic interactionism. Assumptions are made when interactions are natural then what they seem to be. Ideas and power vary therefore this outcome changes in people’s behaviour and identity. Concern was surrounded by meaning and a key term is verstehen. The social construction of divorce has been viewed through several lens because back in history divorce was viewed as a negative event, and everyone was not accepting.  Compared to our generation now, divorce is viewed as a normal and its accepted in our society.

        A solution that might “solve” the controversies and problems that are associated with divorce is respect for the minority views. Involving different minority’s such as religion and culture helps understand the different views associated with divorce.


        In addition, another theoretical paradigm sociologist referred to is feminism within divorce. Feminism focuses on patriarchy within the classes of gender and is dominated by an individual particularly by males.  The main level of analysis targets the micro and macro analysis. Feminism is a large feature of our own identity to become masculine or feminine. The view between feminism and conflict theory both related in similar ways since there is the key of inequality. Gender roles within this theory are not balance because in divorce feminism is changing inequality through tension which modifies their social stability.

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         Feminism is divided into three variant stages for example, liberal feminist theories is related to the rights associated with divorce. Equal rights are to be determined within all individuals, and legal restraints. This is affiliated in divorce with child custody, property income, investments, and many other legal customs. The Marxist feminist theory is related to social class and position, in divorce this is where divorces rate is important to economic growth. In divorce you need to live the life you use to live, no matter what circumstances you are in. This meaning your class and economic position cannot change due to the situation of divorce, you are obligated not to have change in life.  Lastly, in the radical feminist theory the idea of patriarchy is shown and in divorce they want to replace the male domination with female power. In divorce

        Within the feminist theory a solution that would help “solve” the controversies and problems with divorce is eliminating the gender inequality. For instance, in certain ethnicities when the man overpowers the woman, this allows the woman equal rights in the divorce. Gender inequality is mainly due to the different gender roles in society. Each individual has the right to have equality in our live and by fighting gender related stereotypes, promoting equality and being more informed about inequality would help benefit in this situation. In order to fulfill this aspect during divorce includes perhaps if children are involved it allows men more rights or custody. Woman use to get these rights, but the males would have to give financial needs. Although, many things have evolved in our society now which has allowed rights to be evolved.

Best Theory

        Furthermore, I believe the theoretical paradigm that best reflects the social issue of divorce is the feminist theory. Not stating that the other paradigms also relate to the topic of divorce but, the best fit is the paradigm of feminism.  In divorce there are causes although, there are other factors of divorce.


         In conclusion, each of the three sociological paradigms have their own diverse ways of seeing divorce. All three theorists help us explore a deeper understanding of knowledge and helps connect each to the topic of divorce in several aspects. As a final point, the development of the paradigm’s guides thinking to our social world. Although, through overall connections the best theory related to the topic of divorce is feminism not mentioning they do all connect in various ways, others balance more than others. Thus, they all have their point of view on divorce. To summarize, functionalism views divorce in a skeptical way, symbolic interactionalism provides us a framework of interaction and feminism defines the gender identity.

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