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Session Overview
RN13_01a_P: Couples, Cohabitation and Family Forms I
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Esther Dermott, University of Bristol
Session Chair: Teresa Martín-García, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
Location: PD.2.34
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: D, Level: 2.

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New family forms in Switzerland: The similarity of marriage and cohabitation in question

Jean-Marie LeGoff2, Valerie-Anne Ryser1

1FORS, Switzerland; 2Lines, Lives, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

In Switzerland, non-marital unions have been predominantly a prelude to marital union rather than an alternative to marriage. This situation is however changing. More and more couples remain unmarried when they have children. Vital statistics show an increase of out-of-wedlock children from 7% in 1995 to 22% in 2014. In addition cohabitant couples exhibit more equal division of tasks, more individual autonomy and less traditional attitudes toward family compared to married ones.

Based on a the model of vulnerability conceptualized by Schröder-Butterfill, and Marianti (2006), our research aims to better understand whether cohabitant individuals might be more vulnerable compared to the married ones for several reasons: first, they do not share behavior or belief that is considered as normative by the society they live in; second, they might be more exposed to contingencies, stress, and difficulties coping with them in a context where Swiss institutions do not have legal rules to frame cohabitation; third, cohabitation is linked with less happiness.

Using data from the Swiss “Family and Generation survey 2013” results indicate that cohabitant individuals express more progressive opinions and attitudes about the perception of work and family organization. They also tend to be more equalitarian within the couple. But, they express more vulnerability toward work and family life integration, less positive affect and more negative affect. Cohabitant individuals tend to experiment more time pressure, especially while they have children, and seem to be still more exposed due to the lack of legal rules.

The one but not only – primary relationships in polyamory

Ewelina Baczkowska

The University of Warsaw, Poland

Sex is still a taboo topic but nowadays it is less taboo than it was once. We talk about sex with more openness, we read about it more and we have bigger expectations towards our sex life. Our love pattern has changed – Giddens’ pure relationships are to a great extend based on sexual compatibility of partners and mutual satisfaction.

However there are people for whom experimenting with their own partner is not enough. For them the best way gain a perfect relationship is consensual non-monogamy. This term refers to all intimate relationships in which partners agree to have other sexual or/and romantic partners.

One of the most popular examples of a relationship based on the consensual non-monogamy is polyamory, which can be define as multiple-partner relationships. Even in quite conservative Poland we can see an increasing popularity of polyamory. People who decide to be in this kind of relationship even organize their own meetings and events in Warsaw. They openly talk about their love philosophy and ideas about sex and intimacy.

The author’s research is based on individual in-depth interviews with people who chose to live in polyamory and have one primary relationship. The method of selecting respondents used in the research was purposive sampling. The aim of this research is to investigate polish polyamorous groups and to understand a decision of choosing polyamory and its possible influence on one’s relationship.

Single foster parents between social engagement and self-centered motives: experiences with and challenges of a contested form of elective affinities

Emma Degroote, Chloë Delcour, Lesley Hustinx

University of Ghent, Belgium

[theme RN13_a] In recent decades significant changes in terms of relationships and family took place. Beck and Beck-Gernsheim argue that individuals increasingly shape their own biography and that who belongs to the family and who does not, in an individualized society has become an individual choice of the family members. An example of a late modern family with elective affinities is a single parent foster family, where singles choose to take in a child that they have no biological relation with. In the literature, this specific family form is only discussed to a limited extent. In this exploratory, qualitative study fourteen single foster mothers are asked about their experiences as single foster parents and how they deal with the challenges of foster parenting through in-depth interviews. Three areas of tension were found: the tension between self-centered motives to foster and the perception of foster care as a social engagement, the tension between the temporary nature of foster care and the extent to which the foster parents attach to their foster child and the tension between the private aspect of foster care and its institutional side. These experiences of tension and the ways in which two different, identified types of respondents deal with them are discussed by means of the theoretical framework of elective affinities of Beck-Gernsheim.

Subjective Wellbeing of Single Mothers in Europe. A Multilevel Analysis of 25 countries

Heikki Ervasti, Takis Venetoklis, Mia Hakovirta

University of Turku, Finland

Single mothers have been identified as an especially vulnerable group in earlier welfare state literature, and studies on single mothers’ objective living conditions and economic conditions support this idea. However, much less is known about the subjective wellbeing (SWB) of single mothers. So far only very few studies have focused on SWB of single mothers in Europe, and to our knowledge no prior comparative international studies exist. To fill this research gap we analyse data from the European Social Survey Round 6 (2012) from 25 countries with multilevel regression methods. Our results show that there are notable country level differences in single mothers’ SWB. The differences reflect the type of the welfare state and family policies so that single mothers in the Nordic countries score the highest whereas Eastern and Southern European mothers have the lowest levels of SWB. Moreover, on the individual level, the gap in SWB between single mothers and other women is connected to economic resources and living conditions but also to the lack of partnership, less sociability and health. To conclude, we discuss the possible indications of our analysis for family policies.

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