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A sociological investigation into cohabitation in Britain today.

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Introduction

Sociology A2 Coursework. Rationale In my coursework I shall conduct a sociological investigation into cohabitation in Britain today. This is expanded from my previous coursework, which updated past research into the stigmas attached to cohabitation. It interests me to investigate whether facts and opinions of cohabitation have changed over time. To achieve this aim I shall look at the following questions throughout my research: 1. Why has cohabitation increased? 2. Does cohabitation have an effect on children? 3. What advantages and disadvantages are there to cohabitation? 4. Is there still a stigma attached to cohabitation? 5. Do cohabiting couples ever wish to marry or is it a permanent status? I believe that cohabitation is increasingly replacing marriage. I intend to research cohabitation using a questionnaire, which will be given to both cohabiting and married couples to complete. 133 Words Context Cohabitation has doubled since 1981 to around 25% and is greatly increasing. It is defined as when two people live together in a relationship without being married. This can be either a short-term arrangement or a permanent status in which the couple do not see the need to be legally married. Sociologists have researched into many areas of cohabitation and the family. However, more recently the main focus has been on the increase in cohabitation. It is argued that marriage is becoming less popular and so people are developing alternatives to conventional married life. Also, there are increasing numbers of marital breakdown, which are reflected in rises in the divorce rates. The General Household Survey from Social Trends (2000) found that in Great Britain between 1998 and 1999, 26% of males and 25% of females, between the ages of 16 and 59, were in a cohabiting relationship. This is relevant as it show evidence of the large numbers of cohabiting couples in society today. Chester (1980) has argued that cohabitation is only a temporary situation that often leads to marriage. ...read more.

Middle

It is likely that there would be some correlations between the opinions of the cohabiting couples against the opinions of married and non-cohabiting couples. As stated above, I am not looking for a direct relationship and so I used this question to gain an idea of how many cohabiting couples would be found from a random sample in various places. The above graph shows that a large amount of the participants were married but also that there was a great amount of cohabiting couples. The fact that a high number of cohabiting couples were found randomly links to my aims and could be used to support research indicating the increase in cohabitation, which was also shown earlier, from the results of the General Household Survey (2000). 3. What age group do you appear in? 18-25 26-35 36-45 46-55 56-65 Over 65 This question was used for similar reasons as the gender question. It can be, once again, used to make relationships between the age of the participant and their opinions of cohabitation. This could, perhaps, be used to discover whether opinions are changing between generations or simply that all opinions have now changed. I have used it to gain a personal insight into the participant and to later see if I had a sample which varies enough to make the results representative. Although, as the chart shows, a large number of participants were aged between 18-25 and 36-45, I think that there is a relatively wide variation of ages to support my research with. I did not, however, have any participants aged over 65 which could have an effect on my results as they do not take into account the opinions of the older generations in society. 4. On average, how many cohabiting couples do you know of? None 1-5 6-10 11-15 16-20 Over 20 This, along with question two, shows the increase in cohabitation and the large number of cohabiting couples which now exist in society. ...read more.

Conclusion

This method could also be used to further my work, by focusing on only the increase in cohabitation for example. Another, possible, alternative way of researching cohabitation would have been to look at relationships and links between different answers (as I have briefly suggested in my evidence). It would be interesting to see what links there are between gender, relationship type and age, with cohabitation and the opinions shown by these different participants. It would also be interesting to discover if there are any links between the answers to the effects of cohabitation on children, and whether the participant has children themselves. However, as I have not included these relationship aspects in my work, some questions could be considered as less relevant to my chosen research. I did not encounter any great problems which could have had any effect on my research, but I feel that some minor aspects could be improved. I found that, although rarely, some questions were ignored and not given an answer. However, as a part of my ethical standards I informed participants that if they were not comfortable with answering the question they would not have to. This, while ethical, is not entirely practical for me, and some participants may have simply ignored these questions because of time constraints etc. As it was only written answers that were not given, this could be avoided if questions were kept to only multiple choice answers with the option of writing an alternative answer if the participant feels it is necessary. I also feel that my questions may have been slightly vague as many of the answers given were similar to answers given to previous questions. This may have been because of a misunderstanding of the questions and so could be partially avoided by changing the structure of the questions. Overall, however, I am satisfied with the results of my research and feel that I have gained worthwhile knowledge of cohabitation to justify my aims and present new sociological findings of cohabitation. 628 Words Nicola Findler Sociology A2 Coursework 4057 Words Nicola Findler ...read more.

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