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Marriage in Modern Britain

marriagecertificateimage1In spite of reports that marriage in modern Britain is ‘dead’, it continues to be both the majority partnership status in the UK and, according to attitude surveys, the most popular relationship status. Analysis of socioeconomic trends, however, demonstrates lower rates of marriage amongst lower income levels. This project seeks to explore the circumstances in which people marry in the UK today in order to gain a better understanding of what marriage in the twenty-first century represents.

Less normative pressure to marry has unequivocally affected marriage – and divorce – rates, but interestingly it has not led to the end of marriage as a widespread ideal. It may even be more accurate to argue that marriage is more idealised today than ever before. Firstly, because of its prevalence without previous levels of normative coercion; secondly because marriage has been shown to have become something to actively achieve through the attainment of financial and material prerequisites.

Examining the available evidence (spanning from academic research to official statistics and public records) together with identifying gaps in the data and corresponding misreadings, the project will seek to piece together a comprehensive understanding of marriage, with particular attention focused on the economic interactions. Alongside analysis of who is and who is not marrying, and why, the project will investigate how couples are marrying and the roles and transformations of the modern wedding.

The Marriage in Modern Britain project will be running over the course of the next 18 months. For more information about the project please get in touch with Anastasia de Waal (


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