Women in Divorce

Women in Divorce

Women in Divorce

Women in Divorce

Excerpt

Women in divorce, originally published as After Divorce, was intended as a contribution to sociological theory, as nearly all my writings on the family have been. It analyzes the processes by which mothers in an ambiguous social situation, in which the social structure does not specify their role obligations or their rights, are gradually moved by their role network into a new position. This is structurally like their situation prior to divorce, in which they can more easily discharge their role obligations, and in their self-conceptions they no longer view their status of "ex-wife of Y -- " as primary. It is an analysis of status sequences, of phases in role interaction.

Nevertheless, and in spite of my obvious attempt to model my inquiry after Emile Durkheim's Suicide, which tried to use a type of "deviance" to explore differences in social structures, the study had no such grandiose beginnings. Its conception took place in an undergraduate class in research methods, when I assigned two budding librarians to summarize all the research on post divorce adjustment. I greeted with scepticism their report that no such body of work existed, other than Willard Waller The Old Love and the New, and sent them back to the library. After a new confirmation, I set the class to designing and executing a pilot study of this adjustment process. As I note in Appendix I, I did not learn as much from my blunders at this stage as I should have, since one unexpected finding (the negative correlation between class ranking and the divorce rate) convinced me (erroneously) that my sample was wildly askew.

Yet neither this simple accidental origin, nor even the next expanded phase, when I dragooned into my research group all who did not actively resist, presaged the final more complex outcome. We sociologists complain about the great length of time between field work and publication, but perhaps this work suggests that not all delay need be unproductive. For in my effort to interpret the data, I was again and again driven to seek out other relevant research. As a result, the book integrates the data from one field project with the materials from numerous other studies. Thereby, the inquiry avoided somewhat the inherent narrowness of a survey.

Sociological theory did precede the actual analysis of the data (as our . . .

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