Reinvigorating research on divorce: reflexivity, agency and regulation in marriage and civil partnership dissolution

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There is a dearth of research on the dissolution of legally formalised same-sex relationships, which can be partly explained by same-sex marriage and civil partnership being relatively recent possibilities. However, it is also the case that divorce as a topic of research has been marginalised in the renewed interest in family and relationships that has focused on diverse intimacies, family forms, family practices, friendships and personal life. This article analyses data from a qualitative study of same-sex divorce and civil partnership dissolution to consider the reasons that partners give for the ending of their formalised relationships. We argue that our analysis illuminates the need to reinvigorate research on divorce and dissolution more generally to fully understand changing social norms as they concern marriage and similar legal arrangements. We do this by analysing the three main reasons our study participants gave for the dissolution of their relationships: finances, infidelity and wellbeing. Such reasons can be read in part through a gendered lens as previous research has tended to do, but they also go well beyond gender to provide insights into how marriage and relationship ideals, aspirations and practices are being reconfigured contemporarily.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75–90
Number of pages16
JournalFamilies, Relationships and Societies
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • Civil Partnership
  • dissolution
  • divorce
  • gender
  • marriage
  • reasons
  • same-sex
  • neoliberal


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