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Title: An investigation of attitudes towards relationships in the 18 to 30 age group
Author: Watt, Laura Helen
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis investigates the relevance of individualisation theory in the attitudes of 18 to 30 year olds living in Britain. It tests four theories of couple relationships that can be located in this debate; two prominent theories of individualisation (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim, 1995; Giddens, 1992), a theory of social exchange (Rusbult, 1980) and a socio-cultural theory of romantic love (Giddens, 1992; Jackson 1993; Burkitt 1997). In considering how these four theories might be relevant to the attitudes of 18 to 30 year olds two different ways are explored. The first is concerned with how the theories might be relevant to the attitudes of 18 to 30 year olds as a social group in terms of which theory seems most reflective of the attitudes of this population as a whole. The second is concerned with how the theories might be relevant as psychological types, to explore whether different types of attitude could be identified in the 18 to 30 age group and whether the models in any way map onto these types. The study also explores how attitudes towards relationships might differ between different demographic and socio-economic groups in the 18 to 30 population. The research design has four elements; the first involves exploratory interviews with six relationship counsellors, the second involves the analysis of data from the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (1990, 2000), the third involves the creation and validation of a self-completion attitude instrument, the fourth involves the analysis of the primary data collected via this instrument from a representative sample of 18 to 30 year olds living in Britain. One of the main statistical techniques used in analysing the survey data (both Natsal 1990, 2000 and the primary data) is cluster analysis. This is used to identify groups who have similar attitudes to one another and therefore investigate whether one can distinguish between different attitude types. The key findings of this research indicate that, in the attitudes of this age group at least, traditional values and desires pervade. While there have been some shifts that indicate a loosening of traditional values and desires, on the whole young adults seem to desire traditional relationship forms, namely monogamous live-in partnerships, and value qualities consistent with them, namely fidelity and longevity. Further, this research shows evidence for both a theory of romantic love and individualisation theory as attitude types. Finally, it shows that measures of age, sex, religiosity, ethnicity, country of origin, class and education are all associated with attitudes towards relationships.
Supervisor: Elliot, Mark; Crossley, Nick Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: attitudes ; couple relationships ; individualisation