Functionalist Theory and Divorce Rates

According to the functionalist theory created by Emile Durkheim, society may be regarded as the human body where every part is necessary and has unique functions. In addition, every member of society and every event, even a negative or tragic one, contribute to its balance. Thus, the theory may be used for the evaluation of such current issues as the increased rates of divorces, especially in developed countries. According to the American Psychological Association (n.d.), regardless of the fact that marriage traditionally impacts people’s physical and mental health, 40-50% of married couples divorce. This percentage is already higher in comparison with the past decades, and the number of divorces is expected to continue its growth.

The functionalist theory states that even negative events and social issues have positive outcomes as they are regarded as inevitable and expedient. From a personal perspective, this statement is correct, even if divorce is traditionally defined as a socially undesirable phenomenon. However, first of all, it is impossible to deny its existence as urbanization, industrialization, and social movements have substantially changed the institute of family. Thus, growing rates of divorces may indicate positive changes in society. For instance, women receive equal rights and do not want to tolerate unsuccessful marriages that may imply men’s total control, violence, or a lack of responsibility. As a result, divorces indicate general social development where all people have common rights regardless of their gender, age, and socioeconomic status. It is a natural process that does not threaten marriage – only those couples who suffer together will divorce. As a matter of fact, a potential solution may be the promotion of family, however, it should consider modern realities to raise awareness of partners’ expectations.


American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Marriage & divorce. Web.

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