Conscious coupling: loss of public promises of a life-long bond? An exploration of authenticity and autonomy in commitment processes across contemporary long-term relationship forms

Sharon Blake, Astrid Janssens

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Strong mutual commitment is typically conceived of as involving a public promise of a life-long bond, but social theorists have posited that external relationship anchors are being replaced with a private meaning of commitment. This narrative analysis of semi-structured interviews with ten White British couples in long-term relationships (15+ years) of different forms (married, civil partners, cohabitants) explores the meaning of commitment in contemporary relationships. The findings indicate a loss of importance attached to public promises, with couple relationships instead guided by two distinct commitment narratives, one of which rejects future-oriented promises of a life-long bond. Contrary to individualisation theories, however, relationship trajectories continue to be shaped by social influences. The study raises questions regarding the growth of an alternative moral framework for relationships and suggests theoretical conceptions of commitment are reconsidered in light of changes in contemporary relationship practices.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFamilies, Relationships and Societies
ISSN2046-7435
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17. Mar 2021

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