In the past few decades, legal marriage rates have declined in the Western world. Many heterosexual and same-sex couples today are living together or cohabitating for several years before tying the kt. The changing nature of intimate relationships and the very meaning of marriage have resulted in a period of extended intimate partnership that may - or may t - result in marriage. Sociologists Maureen Baker and Vivienne Elizabeth present a cutting-edge discussion of contemporary ideas about marriage and living together. They explore the reasons why certain couples who cohabitate eventually decide to formalize their long-term relationship, and whether formalization actually makes a difference for the couple and those around them. While the decision to marry has evolved from previous generations, so have the practices surrounding wedding rituals. The authors discuss aspects of the wedding industry, examining which traditions couples are retaining and which they are personalizing, such as writing n-patriarchal vows and sharing personal stories about their relationship. The authors also compare the cohabitation and wedding rituals practiced by same-sex and different-sex couples. Baker and Elizabeth draw on a wide range of international studies - from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States - as well as their own research, in which they interviewed marriage celebrants and long-term cohabitants who are heterosexual and gay/lesbian, aged from 28 to 63, and from a variety of social backgrounds. The result is a fascinating, multi-generational study of the lives of couples around the world as they negotiate their relationships in the twenty-first century.
Maureen Baker is one of Canada's most respected sociologists, having taught at McGill University and the University of Toronto. She is now a professor of sociology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. The author of eighteen books and countless scholarly articles, her previously published works include Academic Careers and the Gender Gap (UBC Press, 2012), Choices and Constraints in Family Life (OUP, 2010), Families: Changing Trends in Canada (McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 2009), and Restructuring Family Policies: Convergences and Divergences (UTP, 2006). Vivienne Elizabeth is a senior lecturer at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. She has published widely on the sociology of family, including scholarly articles and book chapters in the area of money management amongst cohabiting couples and family violence.