Last Updated 24 Jun 2020

Identify and Explain Two Reasons for an Increase in Cohabitation [17]

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Identify and explain two reasons for an increase in cohabitation [17] One reason is changing social attitudes. Religion regarded cohabitation as ‘living in sin’, but today there is less shame attached to it. Barlow et al found increasing acceptance of cohabitation. This shows that the change in religions social attitude, cohabitation is accepted more, leading to an increase in cohabitation. Some people prefer love that focuses of on intimacy, closeness and emotion rather than the duties of marriage.

Giddens argues that there has been a trend towards confluent love. This love focuses on the intimacy, closeness and emotion of a relationship, rather than the feelings of obligation and duty that is in vows at marriage. When a marriage no longer has confluent love, the relationship is likely to end. This shows that monogamy may start being replaced by serial monogamy, in which cohabitation is most suited to. However, the ONS found that 60% of cohabiting couples will eventually end in marriage showing that monogamy can often replace serial monogamy.

There is less pressure to follow traditional norms and values. Beck and Beck-Gernshiem argue that individualism has led to changing attitudes towards cohabitation and marriage. There is less pressure to follow the norms and values around love and relationships set by family, religion or culture. This shows that the change in attitudes has led to people making their own decision about whether they marry or cohabitate. The acceptance of sex outside marriage has made it more likely that cohabitation will occur.

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Allan and Crow argue that effective contraception has made it possible for partners to cohabit without fear of pregnancy. This alongside the acceptance of sex before marriage means cohabitation without marriage is likely to occur. This shows that the change in social attitudes towards sex outside of marriage has led to an increase in cohabitation. Another reason is the decline in the popularity of marriage. The drawbacks that come with marriage often turn people away from marriage.

McRae found cohabitation had been chosen over marriage because marriage was seen as limiting personal freedom and independence, offering no advantages over cohabitation. This shows that more people started a cohabiting relationship rather than a marriage, leading to a decline in marriage, but a rise in cohabitation. Some people find it better to have more sexual partners than to get married. Patricia Morgan argues that cohabitation is part of a worrying trend in which marriage is going out of fashion and the family is in decline.

It is a sign of an increasing trend to have more sexual partners and change them frequently than to commit to stable married relationships. This shows that cohabitation is becoming more popular than marriage because people are starting to want more than just one partner for life. Cohabitation is an alternative to marriage Chandler argues cohabitation is a relatively stable alternative to marriage and that the length of time couples spend together is expanding. This shows that it is a good alternative to marriage, but with more freedom.

However, the New Right claim that cohabitation is less stable than marriage and can lead to negative consequences. Fear of divorce could lead to more people cohabitating, rather than getting married. The ONS showed that 45% of marriages ended in divorce, which could lead to people not wanting to get married and preferring to cohabit instead. This shows that the fear of divorce can turn people away from marriage and turning to cohabitation, which declines the popularity of marriage and increases cohabitation.

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