Contemporary trends in kinship patterns can be viewed in terms of changing structure and functions of kinship groups and patterns relationship between them. Many of the changes are brought about by the newly emerging bureaucratic organizations ,individualisation ,migration education and so on. Another factor that contributed towards change in function and structure of the family is the arrival of modern contraceptive methods. It has helped in limiting the size of the family on the one hand and improving the choice of women on the other hand. Birth control give more freedom to women, limited the size of family and in many cases also led to many psychological and behavioural issues among the family members as individualism grew with small family size.
In structural terms nuclear family, decline of patriarchal relations, weaning authority's of parents over children, rise of alternative kinship institutions like live- ins are contemporary trends. Functional aspects of kinship relations are also changing. Various functions of family and other descent groups are taken over by alternative institutions. Placement function is no longer performed by family and is done by other economic organizations. Cases of marital breakdown divorce and separation are increasing in family. incidences of domestic violence are also increasing. Community bonds and kinship bonds are weakening and there are lesser avenues to vent out frustrations leading to distress in marital life leading to marital breakdowns. Marital breakdown can be divided into divorce and separation. Divorces is legal termination of marriage while separation is physical separation without legal recognition. Marital breakdowns in post industrialised society are on a rise and there are various contributing factors
it is easy to get divorce due to legislative reforms and enforcement of a uniform code in most of the developed countries. According to Nicky Hart in her, When Marriage Ends , opportunities to escape marriage are more today. Divorce is no longer a social stigma. According to Fletcher, over expectations in marital relations are leading to breakdown. People expect and demand more from marriage and consequently are more likely to end a relationship which may have been acceptable in the past. According to William Goode in his, A Sociological Perspective on Marital Breakdown, nuclear families today carry heavier emotional burden and such social units become relatively fragile. Life is becoming more and more secular, marriage is no longer sacrament. Marriage is more personal thing now. Studies also indicate the divorce rates are high if both spouses are from different backgrounds as reinforcing mechanisms are weak. Though women are encouraged to work ,they are also expected to perform the dictation role as well and it offer leads to conflicts. In her study of American Society Nicky Hart observe that there is an inverse relationship between income breakdown as low income places a heavier strain on relationships. And inverse relation is also found in the age at marriage and divorce. Lower the age at marriage higher the chances of break up as wages may be low at young ages and financial strains may lead to break up of marriages. Status of parents also affects married life of the children. If any of the spouses had parents who are divorced, it increases the chance of split of married children as well. The experience of divorced parents reduces the aversion to divorce. According to William Goode if the spouses are from different ethnic and social background, chances of divorce are increased.
Implications of marital breakdowns are manifested in terms of impact on family, kin and society. In his book, Social Origins of Depression , George Brown found that it is one of the most stressful moments in individuals life. Single Parenthood is on the rise and family as a social institution is threatened. Divorce is also leading two separate homes and doubling of resource requirement . Marital breakdowns create a general feeling that the integration of society as a whole is affected.