New project on “Living Apart Together: a multi-method analysis”
Professor Sasha Roseneil, with researcher Mariya Stoilova has recently started working on a new ESRC-funded project researching the increasingly socially significant phenomenon of relationships in which the couple is “living apart together” (LAT). The project is carried out in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Bradford and NatCen and employs a multi-method quantitative and qualitative analysis.
What this research is about
- High-profile couples who choose to live apart, such as Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton, or Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, are not a novelty. However, according to recent studies it is not only celebrities who can be LATs. Currently 10% of the British adult population are in a relationship but live apart from their partner, which is over a quarter of all those who do cohabit with a partner.
- Over the past decades, we have witnessed dynamic transformations in the sphere of intimacy, including a dramatic rise in divorce rates, an increase in the number of births outside marriage, a rise in the proportion of children being brought up by a lone parent, a growing proportion of households that are composed of one person, and a climbing proportion of women who are not having children.
- As a result, in the UK, as well as throughout Europe, the fixed model of nuclear family has been replaced by an increasing diversity of intimate life and relationship arrangements and family connections have been increasingly based on choice than on blood relations or marriage. This project examines one under-researched area of these contemporary changes in personal life– that of ‘living apart together’, or relationships where intimate partners live separately.
How we are conducting this research
- The study employs a multi–scale quantitative and qualitative analysis involving three strands:
- a representative national survey of types of living apart together relationships, and of motivations, attitudes, experiences and everyday practices
- a large purposive sample, drawn from the national survey, using semi-structured interviews to explore meanings and understandings about living apart together
- a small purposive sample, also taken from the national survey, using a psychosocial methodology, the biographical-narrative interpretive method, to examine in depth individual biographical histories, subjectivities and narrative meaning-making practices.
- The project will also address the policy implications of these relationships, and will explore what these changes in intimate life mean for the future of “the family” as an institution, for coupledom and commitment, for fertility rates and childrearing practices, and for caring practices both for others and for one’s self.