Eric D. Widmer

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Partnerships and intimacy

The profound demographic changes that have occurred since the 1960s seriously question the now classic opposition between the institution and the companionship models of families, as proposed by Ernest Watson Burgess in his famous book. This opposition, and the evolutionist perspective on which it is based, had been challenged by various attempts of definition of styles or models of family interactions, based on four conceptual dimensions: the degree of autonomy of spouses or partners within the couple; the degree of openness of couples towards their environment; their instrumental or expressive orientation; and the importance of negotiation in their daily functioning. In this large study of couples residing in Swizerland, we show that the organization of conjugal intimacy follows five distinct models with specific intimate problems. We also show that embededness of couples in larger networks of friends and relatives makes a significant difference for couples. This later result relate my research made on partnerships with the configurational perspective on families.

Key references

Ammar, N., Gauthier, J.-A., Widmer, E.D. (2014). Trajectories of intimate partnerships, sexual attitudes, desire and satisfaction. Advances in Life Course Research. Vol. 22, pp. 62-72. description | Full text

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