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A History of Working-Class Marriage, 1855-1976

A History of Working-Class Marriage, 1855-1976

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Funded by:  AHRC

Main contact:  Prof Eleanor Gordon

Start date:  2012

End date:  2016

Subject area:
Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute (HATII) - School of Humanities, College of Arts

In contemporary popular and official discourses there has been much written about the ‘traditional’ family. The dominant narrative is that the family, including the working-class family, was a stable unit organised around a core nuclear or extended unit from the middle of the nineteenth century until after the Second World War. Within this narrative, multiple family forms are seen as a recent development which can be attributed to the increase in divorce, remarriage, co-habitation and single parenthood since the late 1970s. Much of this contemporary discussion lacks an historical context and perspective and makes unrealistic assumptions about the need to recreate the ‘traditional’ family.

This project will engage with these discourses and will explore the history of working-class courtship, marriage and marriage breakdown in Scotland in the period from the civil registration of marriages in 1855 to the introduction of no-fault divorce legislation in 1976. The project aims to establish the structure and form of the working-class family over time; to identify the basis of selection of choice of marriage partner; to examine the nature of the relationship between husbands and wives and to establish the pattern, causes and consequences of marriage breakdown.

School of Social and Political Sciences, Economic & Social History.