Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Risk and intimate relationships: can hope triumph over experience in an age of ’messy’ lives?


In an age when neither jobs nor marriages are for life, how do people perceive and weigh-up their options for partnering, reproduction and employment?

Precisely what those starting out on adult life today are prepared to ‘take a chance on’, and what kind of security they seek, are to be investigated in new ESRC-funded research led by Professor Jane Lewis of the London School of Economics. Rebellious students in the late 1960s were contemptuous of what may be termed ‘the standard career’, which promised the certainty of working in the same occupation until retirement.

A generation ago, personal lives were also much more predictable. It was not until the late 20th century that marriage was increasingly separated from parenthood, and family relationships became much more ‘fluid’, with people moving in and out of different forms of intimate relationships.

Professor Lewis said: “For individual households, these huge family and labour market changes have meant the erosion of traditional roles and relationships between men and women. “The contributions that men and women make to families in the form of earnings and unpaid care work are in flux, and the meaning of marriage and partnership has changed. “We are now in a world where two incomes are usually necessary to meet household expenditure - particularly in the UK with mortgage payments. As a result, a traditional marriage, in which the man goes out to work and the woman stays at home, may be put under as much strain as one where both partners pursue high-powered careers.”
People have more choice over partnering, reproduction and, to a lesser extent, the contribution they make to the family in the form of cash or care. But there is also more uncertainty.

A more flexible labour market makes life more tricky for the individual. And the erosion of the traditional family means more material and emotional issues that must be coped with - something that becomes more difficult still with the arrival of children.

Professor Lewis said: “Peoples’ lives have become much more messy - neither jobs nor marriages are for life. Nor are there any clear rules as to what kind of behaviour is acceptable. “Risk, as opposed to uncertainty, is held to be calculable, and it is generally known that there is a high rate of breakdown of relationships. But intimate relationships in western societies are also expected to involve romantic love- ‘the triumph of hope over experience’. “Policymakers express anxiety about family breakdown, and often hanker after the old certainties, but to date we know relatively little about the effect of all this change on the nation’s households.

“For instance, what kind of a risk does cohabitation as opposed to marriage actually represent? How do people handle their relationships when paid work may be uncertain or becoming more intense, and when children arrive? And what do they consider to be private responsibilities, and what public?”

Findings from the project are expected to be valuable for those developing policies for marriage and family support, or involved with issues of family law and policy.

Becky Gammon | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht New population data provide insight on aging, migration
31.08.2016 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht PRB projects world population rising 33 percent by 2050 to nearly 10 billion
25.08.2016 | Population Reference Bureau

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>