Studies devoted to divorce in the past have presented it as the sum of individual divorce situations, they have not defined it (e.g. Goode, 1956; Chester, 1973; Kooy, 1959). This is doubtless because the definition of divorce and its sociological significance are taken for granted; divorce means the breakdown and failure of marriage. These are words used by the individuals concerned and sociologists have implicitly approached the problem from the same point of view. Even if they have apparently (but not always) refrained from direct value judgements and emotionally laden terms such as ‘failure’, they have still considered that the definition of divorce as the end of marriage, its revocation, or as the opposite of marriage, was a satisfactory one.
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