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Chapter 8

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York University
PSYC 3630
Erin Ross

CHAPTER 8: LIVING ALONE, COHABITING, SAME-SEX UNIONS AND OTHER INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS REASONS FOR THE INCREASING PROPORTION OF UNMARRIEDS Demographic, Economic, and Technological Changes 1. one reason for the growing proportion of singles is demographic, or related to population numbers; a high rate of heterosexual marriage presumes that there are matching numbers of marriage-age males and females in the population sex ratio: the number of men to women in a given society or subgroup influences marital options and singlehood it changes overtime in U.S. it was more men but as of 2007 its more women (sex ratio is lower for blacks and Native Americans) 2. economic factors have increased the proportion of nonmarrieds expanded educational and career options for college-educated women over the past several decades have encouraged many of them to postpone marriage, and some see it as a bad bargain after securing financial and sexual independence 3. technological changes over the past 60 years have affected the proportion of singles birth control pills, improved contraception has contributed to the decision to delay or forego marriage and with effective contraception, sexual relationships outside marriage and without great risk of unwanted pregnancy became possible Cultural Changes o new life cycle stage called emerging adulthood: Young people today spend more time in higher education and/or exploring options regarding work, career, and family making than in the past o several other cultural changes over the past few decades also account for the growing proportion of unmarrieds 1. attitudes toward nonmarital sex have changed dramatically over past decades 2. American cultures gives greater weight to personal autonomy, many find that at least for now singlehoods more desirable than marriage as more young adults choose to claim independence simply by moving, marriage has lost its monopoly as the way to claim adulthood cohabitation is emerging as a socially accepted alternative to marriage marriage has become less strongly defined as permanent, and high divorce rates have led at some singles to fear a potential divorce of their own o much of the increase in singlehood results from 1. low sex ratios, particularly in certain regions and among specific age and racial/ethnic groups 2. increasing educational and economic options for some, coupled with growing financial disadvantage for others 3. technological changes regarding pregnancy 4. changing cultural attitudes toward marriage and singlehood: greater acceptance of premarital sex and emphasis on personal autonomy, development of singlehood and cohabitation as acceptable lifestyles, marriage having lost its monopoly as a way to claim adulthood, and the diminished permanence of marriage SINGLES THEIR VARIOUS LIVING ARRANGEMENTS Living Alone o the number of one-person households has increased dramatically over past decades individuals living alone now make up over 28% of U.S. households vs. 8% in 1940 Living Alone Together o an emerging lifestyle choice is living alone together here a couple is engaged in a long- term relationship, but each partner also maintains a separate dwelling Living with Parents o a large proportion of young adults today are living with one or both parents o some adults who live with their parents have never moved out, but others (called boomerangers) have left home and then returned (economic reasons, are a primary reason) Group or Communal Living o groups of single adults and perhaps children may live often these are simple roommate arrangements o Communes that is, situations or places characterized by group living, have existed in American society throughout its history and have widely varied in their structure and family arrangements o living communally has declined in the U.S. since its highly visible status in the 1960s, when many communes were established as ideological retreats from what their founders saw as the misguided American life characteristics of 1950s o communal living, either in single houses or in co-housing complexes that combine private areas with communal kitchens and family rooms, may be one way to cope with some of the problems of aging, unattached singlehood, or single parenthood o its designed to provide enhanced opportunities for social support and companionship COHABITATION AND FAMILY LIFE o Cohabitation: or nonmarrieds living together, gained widespread acceptance over the past several decades and is widely as one of the most important changes in family life in the past 40 years, dramatically altering the marital life course by offering a prelude to or a replacement for marriage Cohabitation as an Acceptable Living Arrangement o cohabitation is very much a family status, but one in which the level of certainty about commitment are less than in marriage o Kiernan has described a society-wide, four-stage process through which cohabitation becomes a socially acceptable living arrangement, equal in status to marriage 1. in the first stage, the vast majority of heterosexuals marry without living together first 2. in the second stage, more people live together but mainly as a form of courtship before marriage, and almost all of them marry with pregnancy3. in the third stage, cohabitating becomes a socially acceptable alternative to marriage 4. in the fourth stage, cohabitation and marriage become virtually indistinguishable, both socially and legally in this stage, the numbers of married and cohabiting couples are about equal, and a cohabiting couple may have several children Cohabitation as an Alternative to Unattached Singlehood and to Marriage o accounts on how cohabitation begins suggest that cohabiting does not always result from a well-considered decision o some cohabitants view living together as an alternative to dating or unattached singlehood o Arnett has dubbed those who live together as an alternative to being single uncommitted cohabitators o other cohabitors view living together as an alternative to marriage as they construct their own definitions of commitment, we can think of these couples as committed cohabitors o peoples reasons for living together as an alternative to marrying often include the belief that marriage signifies loss of identity or stifles partners equality and communication The Cohabitating Relationship o as a category, cohabiting couples differ from married couples in several ways 1. cohabitors are less homogamous, or alike in social characteristics, than are marrieds 2. cohabiting couples are about twice as likely as marrieds to be interracial 3. compared with married women, co
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