9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN23 Sexuality

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Sexuality, the Family and Intimate Life Building I, 1E8

Just like marriage - Young couples┬┤civil partnerships

It has been argued that same sex relationships are individualised intimacies par excellence: relational forms that are more (insecurely) rooted in reflexive biographies than in the social practices and norms associated with modern marriage. In this paper, we challenge this view through a preliminary analysis of interviews with couples who have entered into Civil Partnership. The interviews were generated for a study entitled "Just Like Marriage" Young Couple's Civil Partnerships' that is funded by the British Economic and Social Research Council. Same sex partners (aged under 35) were interviewed together and individually to produce joint narratives of the "married" relationship and individual narratives of partners? intimate orientations. These narratives were subsequently explored for the insights they generated into the range of factors (biographical, material, social, cultural) that shaped the young couples' partnerships. The paper adopts an intersubjective approach to analysing these interviews, exploring (i) how young same sex couple's narratives of their "marriages" display a complex interplay between different forms of reflexivity, and (ii) the insights this generates into the links between contemporary marriage as a social institution and civil partnership as a couple and personal project. The paper considers how social continuities and change (with respect to the norms and practices of marriage) are evidenced in joint narratives of civil partnerships and in personal narratives of intimate orientations.