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Married Cohabiting relationship Non-cohabiting relationship This question was used for a number of reasons in my questionnaire. Similar to the above question, relating to gender, it can be used to show any possible relationships between a couple’s status and their opinions of cohabitation. 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.

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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).

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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.

Only one participant answered this question by saying that they do not know of any cohabiting couples. The results show that, overall, most people appear to know of between 1 and 15 cohabiting couples. The results of the question clearly show that there are large numbers of cohabiting couples in society, supporting evidence that it is on the increase. 5. Why/why not have you chosen to marry? This question links into my aim of why cohabitation has increased and so the results of this were important to my research.

Due to the large number of 18-25 year participants, there were a few answers relating to them feeling too young to marry, which are irrelevant to my research. Another, more common, answer was that they chose to marry due to the love and respect they had towards their partner, showing that the values marriage has still exists in society. Most married couples commented that marriage provides a more stable environment and security in the relationship for children, showing that in most cases marriage appears to be the result of children or the want of starting a family.

Cohabiting and non-cohabiting couples generally had similar opinions of marriage. One participant stated that “At the present time we do not feel that marriage is important” and many others commented on the unimportance of marriage to them. This can be linked to the great decline in divorce rates and the increase in cohabitation, if marriage is loosing its importance in society. Others said that they would not marry due to the result of a previous failed marriage and not wanting the commitment that marriage appears to come with.

It would appear, from my results, that marriage is mainly occurring as the result of commitment towards children rather than the partner. 6. Do you feel that cohabiting couples have more individual benefits than married couples? Yes No Although, as the graph shows, the results of this question are very close it is interesting that so many people have said that cohabiting couples have more benefits. The fact that so many people feel cohabitation has more benefits than marriage could be an incentive for cohabitation to further increase in society and could also be the reason why it has increased so far.

Considering that there were once very few cohabiting couples, this could indicate that these benefits have recently occurred and could therefore add to the current threats to marriage and the family. 7. Why/why not? This question was designed to discover what advantages cohabiting couples have over married couples, and what advantages married couples have over cohabiting couples. Six participants felt that cohabiting and married couples have the same individual benefits as each other, showing no difference between them.

All others, who answered no to the above question, answered with comment towards the support that the law gives married couples and the legal rights that they receive. Many participants related these answers to the financial benefits that married couples receive in cases such as pensions and in the event of their partner’s death. These comments may show more reasoning for marriage, particularly later in life. However, participants who answered yes to the above question also related their answers to the financial benefits that cohabiting couples receive over married couples.

An example of this was given by one participant who related the financial benefits to cohabiting couples with children by saying “Parents can get extra benefits as single parents even if they are living with their partner”. Many other participants commented on the financial help that cohabiting couples can receive (housing etc). This suggests that people consider cohabitation to be financially supported by the law, giving another incentive to cohabit rather than marry. 8. What disadvantages do you feel that cohabitation has? A surprising nine participants felt that cohabitation has no disadvantages in answer to this question.

The majority (eight participants) said that the main disadvantage of cohabitation was the insecurity due to the ease of the relationship ending. Many felt that marriage creates a sense of security and stability in a relationship which cohabitation lacks. This is possibly because of the legal bind that marriage has on a relationship, making it more difficult to split and so less likely to occur. Other participants made comments, similar to the above question, regarding the legal and financial problems that can occur in certain situations throughout the relationship. 9.

Do you think that cohabitation has increased in society? Yes No The results to this question were very successful in supporting the ideas produced from my aims. Only one participant answered no to this question. The results from previous questions have shown that there are high numbers of cohabitation and so to support that, the high majority of people believe that there has been an increase in cohabitation. The results of this question links to past research done into the increase of cohabitation and continues to show the great impact cohabitation seems to be having in society today.

The results of this can be used to link in the reasons why people believe there has been such an increase. 10. Do you think that cohabitation is now more acceptable in society? Yes No The results of this question show an obvious agreement in opinion regarding the acceptance of cohabitation. The results show an extremely valid answer to the particular aim I set at the beginning of my research. This shows a 100% acceptance of cohabitation in society, from the participants in my research.

This has furthered the results from the Social Trends Survey (1996) (discussed earlier), on a smaller scale, showing a continuing change in opinions regarding cohabitation in society. 11. Do you have any children from your current or a past relationship? Yes No I included this question as another option to use as a link between other answers, particularly answers to the following question regarding children and cohabitation. I also felt that it would be interesting to show that the cohabitation figures could be having an effect on child birth figures and whether more children are now being born into illegitimacy.

As answers to previous questions have shown, children can also often be the reason for marriage and an end to cohabitation. The results, however, show no obvious findings to be further commented on. 12. What, if any, effects do you think that cohabitation has on children? A great amount of 14 participants said that cohabitation has no effect on children. Many said that it is not the relationship status of the parents that affects the children but the upbringing that they give the children. It would appear that people generally think that the parenting of children is what should be considered here.

However, many commented that the insecurity within the family and the ease of a broken family occurring can have a great effect on children. One participant, however, commented on this view by saying that “There is very little security for children from a cohabiting relationship, but there is now very little security with marriage because there are so many divorces”, showing a different approach to the increasing indifference in marriage and cohabitation whether with children involved or not. Another common comment made by participants was the difficulty of providing a surname to a child born to unmarried parents.

The general feeling towards cohabitation and children is the worry of having an insecure family for them to be raised in, although on the whole it is the way in which the child is raised that has the greatest effect. 1740 Words Evaluation and Conclusion Having now completed my research I feel that, on the whole, it was successful and that I have gained sufficient knowledge of cohabitation to support my original aims. From past research, that I have looked at, alongside my own research I have, to an extent, answered all of my aims.

I have successfully shown that there has been an increase in cohabitation which has been clearly acknowledged by society and so resulted in a great increase in acceptance towards it, abolishing the once prominent stigma towards it. It would appear that marriage has lost its importance in society, resulting in its decrease, and continues to exist largely on the basis of the security that it can provide children with. Cohabitation would, perhaps, further increase if it were not for the continuing worry of the ease of relationships failing.

It is the general opinion that cohabitation does not have any great effect on children, as many feel that the upbringing, that parents give the child is much more important. My research has shown many reasons and examples which can be used in support of this. If I were to complete my research again I would consider making some changes to the topic I chose to study. I would not study the entire topic of cohabitation is society, but would focus on one particular area of cohabitation. This would allow me to get a more in-depth set of results and would give my research more validity and focus.

If I were to research a focused area of cohabitation, I feel that using a structured interview would be more suitable as it would allow me to ask more personal questions and elaborate on participant’s answers, which would also be more extensive than when given in a questionnaire. 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.

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Kylie Garcia

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