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Cohabitation in America, Research Paper Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1224

Research Paper

Historical Background

Cohabitation in America has the implication of two individuals, and in some cases more than two individuals who are joined by an intimate relationship that facilitate for their living together and having common domestic purposes in life although they are not officially married  (Steven, 1995).

The current trend in America today indicates that, a high number of people from the opposite sex are opting for cohabitation as the best alternatives of forming unions. Cohabitation consequently is seen as courtship in a different form. The explanation of the trend is that fewer marriages are taking place in America because available alternatives appear to be more attractive in comparison to marriages (Steven, 1995).  The single living people usually aim to be involved in long-term relationships in their future although they have the awareness of risks that are associated with marriage. Most couples have a strong desire to stay in stable relationships in future which will protect the interests of their children (Bumpass,  James, Sweet & Cherlin, 1991). Consequently, a big questions lingers at the mind of most people, is cohabitation replacing marriage as a new form? Evidence derived from social science indicates numerous problems which are faced by most couples (Stets, 1991). The research findings form from the Journal of Family issues, Journal of Marriage and Families and other studies aims at getting a convincing answer to the question.

Contemporary Trends and Statistics

Available statistics indicate that more than 4.85 million American unmarried couples are engaged in cohabitation. Cohabitation has net been legalized in some states in America which include Michigan, Virginia, Florida as well as Mississippi (Steven, 1995). Contemporary trends of cohabitation in America have revealed the rising popularity of cohabitation of most unmarried couples as compared to legally accepted marriages. The prevalence of cohabitation is significantly high among the younger people in addition to the less affluent populace (Bumpass,  James, Sweet & Cherlin, 1991).

Additional information from research indicates that, legal registration and definition in cohabitation is lacking in most areas of United States. Demographic data therefore is obtained through some methods that have been developed by demographers to identify the levels of cohabitation and its prevalence. The trend indicates that, about 8.2% of the entire American populace was living in cohabitation relationships. 4.85 million Couples were reported to be living in cohabitation relationships in the year 2005. The age group of consideration in the issue of cohabitation is 24-34 years (Steven, 1995).

Theoretical Framework

A clear understanding of proliferation of cohabitation in America requires an understanding of the theoretical perspectives that guide the research. The theory of functionalism has been widely used in the explanation of the trend although it has failed to consider human agency in the explanation of social reality. However, for a long time now, the ideas advocated for in this theory have contributed significantly, in creating important theories that direct in understanding the changes that are prevalent in family institutions.  From the viewpoint of the functionalist, the family is the most important institution that has a number of functions which include socialization and reproduction among others (Bumpass,  James, Sweet & Cherlin, 1991).

The functionalist theory explains some changes which have taken place in marriage system and the family as being attributed to a process of societal differentiation.  This process of societal differentiation has a functional connection to the ever rising population density which consequently gives rise to other processes such as competition in addition to the actors’ concurrence (Steven, 1995). Changes that take place in the institutions of marriage is motivated by work distribution. Consequently, although the process of differentiation is attributed to individual action, the preceding actions are not done on the basis of intentional decision.

Another important theoretical perspective advocated in understanding the prevalence of cohabitation in the articles is the Symbolic Interactionism. This framework gives an account of the relational expectations on the basis of beliefs inherent in marital as well as cohabiting relationships. According to the expectations, every individual in these relationships has a clearly defined role which implies to normative expectations that are attributed to the position of each individual in the context of social structure (Stets, 1991). In this respect, the roles of consideration include being married man or woman and cohabiting man or woman. This means that the combination of the status and sex i.e. married or cohabiting and woman or man respectively is the basis of considerations in the social roles.

The importance of Symbolic Interactionism is based on the examination of how individual progress in the assignment of issues and definition of specific individual based on their live experience and the environment in which they live. The live experience is determined by social constructions along with symbolism linked to a variety of entities. A woman for example lives to the expectation of child bearing and becoming mothers (Bumpass,  James, Sweet & Cherlin, 1991).

Discussion of the Key Results

The articles have identified some benefits that have been associated with cohabiting. However, cohabitation has also been associated with numerous problems. Domestic violence is one of the most important issues that have been notable in cohabitation which has been documented to increase in this scenario. Children of cohabiting partners have also encountered unlimited disadvantages. The level of happiness and the general well being was indicated to decline among the partners involved in marriage relationships (Steven, 1995). Consequently, the remedy of this situation has been thought to come from cohabitation and thereby its prevalence in the society has increased. However, the findings indicated a vacuum in legal protection and support for cohabitation. It is also associated with numerous sociological as well as psychological problems.

Dramatic changes have taken place within the society that has contributed to the rising popularity of cohabitation.  Most young people are opting to live together in cohabitation relationships as opposed to legal marriage (Bumpass,  James, Sweet & Cherlin, 1991). Most cases of cohabitation are a trial phase of the future marriage. Consequently, the people involved in cohabitation relationships have a future prospect of a married relationship that will facilitate for satisfaction of spiritual as well as emotional needs.

Research Gaps

Additional secondary research is important in this research articles that enhance collection of available statistics. Information keeps on changing due to the changes in the trend of people and regular updating of the information is important. The application of positivity philosophy that facilitate for the gathering of information from manifold sources should also be considered in research. The importance of positivity philosophy is to enhance the level of validity and reliability of the findings and consequently enhancing a comprehensive understanding of research problem. The contribution of the aspects of validity and reliability of the findings in research in the future warrants that the research considers additional methods and approaches in future research. The risk associated with domestic violence to the children of cohabiting partners was an important research question that should have been addressed in these articles.

References

Bumpass, Larry L., James A. Sweet & Cherlin, A. (1991). “The Role of Cohabitation in Declining Rates of Marriage, “Journal of Marriage and The Family, 53 913-927.

Loomis, L.S. & Nancy S. L., (1994). “Nonmarital Cohabitation and Childberaing Among Black and White American Women,” Journal of Marriage and the Family, 56 949-962.

Stets, J.E. (1991). “Cohabiting and Marital Aggression: The Role of Social Isolation,” Journal of Marriage and the Family, 53 669-680.

Steven, L. N., (1995). A Comparison of Marriages and Cohabiting Relationships Journal of Family Issues January 16: 5376,

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