A New Love Affair Life Style? An Empirical Test of Pure Relationship from the Italian Context
Department of Sociology Political Science Faculty - Bologna University Bologna, Italy
The purpose of the paper is to understand the concrete possibility of the "pure relationship", as the sociologist Anthony Giddens calls a situation where a social relation is entered into for its own sake, for what can be derived by each person from a sustained association with another and it?s continued only in so far as it is thought by both parties to deliver enough satisfaction for each individual to stay within it. So, the pure relationship exists exclusively for whatever rewards that relationship can deliver. Giddens describes in this way the process of individualization that has taken in the late modernity and transformed radically the intimate relationships as well as the nature of self-identity. The pure relationship - rooted in the confluent love, a contingent love on partners opening themselves out to each other - is only pure daily practise since it hasn´t any more an overarching structure that sustains the relation itself: the perceived relation is the relations structure and that consequently both the perception both the structure vary individually between the two members of the couple.
So, the core propositions of Gidden´s pure relationship model that I wish to test can be restated as the following hypotheses.
i) If the pure relationship is a great promise of freedom, autonomy, happiness and independency then the "living together form" should be more and more widespread;
ii) Can the pure relationship be generative - even if Giddens has never pointed the role of the child within the relationship? I suppose that the pure relationship is for whom wants a baby but not the other parent.
iii) If the pure relationship is the modern form of social bond, is the family an obsolete way of life?
Analysing the data of "Family Survey 2003" by Istat, the main findings are:
i) the pure relationship is not the main family form but it´s widespread only between young people ;
ii) the single parenthood is not common and does not depend by the desire of the single individual;
iii) the pure relationship does not embodies the pursuit of happiness of the people by their life arrangements.