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Title: Die Ehe - eine Lebensentscheidung?
Subtitle: Anmerkungen aus soziologischer Perspektive
Author(s): LOGEMANN, Niels
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 8    Issue: 2   Date: Autumn 2002   
Pages: 193-208
DOI: 10.2143/INT.8.2.2004435

Abstract :

Marriage ? A Life Choice? Reflections from a Sociological Perspective

The present article addresses the question whether, from the point of view of those getting married today, marriage can be described as a life choice. In order to answer this question, first of all the old thesis of the crisis of the family and marriage is discussed and current sociologically relevant statistics are treated. Next the current figures of marriage and divorce are presented and the statistical development of the institution of marriage and its subjective meaning is explored. Because meanings concern a process of attribution that is not equal for all times but is subject change, in this case in regard to the institution of marriage, after the statistical analysis, marriage is treated from a historical perspective. This perspective allows the change in the grounds for getting marriage to emerge. Differences according to social status and class are evident, but above all one sees that a long term marriage was often chosen as a simple economic necessity. Processes of social change such as the movement from a rural society to an industrial one and thus the separation of the sphere of production from that of the family give a different significance and a diverse attribution of meaning to marriage as well. In particular, the middle-class, with its ideas and ideals about the marital relationship, exercises a lasting influence upon marriage. Along with the historical development, the article examines the thesis that the pluralism of models of life has changed the institution of marriage. In this regard, the process of the change of values is critically discussed, along with the increasing affirmation of diverse models of live along with the matrimonial model, the changed relationship in the roles among the partners, and the increase in the possibilities for action ? the so-called process of individualization. In conclusion, different models and typologies of marriage are presented along with the empirical studies, giving a picture of the possible motives that influence the individual's decision to get married. The thesis that marriage, in the face of increasing individual possibilities of action, is no longer a life decision is critically examined and rejected.

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