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Family rhythmsThe changing textures of family life in Ireland$
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Jane Gray, Ruth Geraghty, and David Ralph

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780719091513

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719091513.001.0001

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Early adulthood and family formation

Early adulthood and family formation

(p.95) 4 Early adulthood and family formation
Family rhythms

Jane Gray

Ruth Geraghty

David Ralph

Manchester University Press

This chapter discusses the extension of ‘early adulthood’ in contemporary Ireland. It traces changes in the transition to independent household formation amongst young adults, from tightly ordered and sequenced around the middle of the twentieth century, towards a pattern of ‘unbundling’ from the latter half of the twentieth century onwards. Unbundling is explained in the context of changing meanings and values around sexual intercourse, cohabitation, birth outside marriage and lone parenthood throughout this period. Narratives from the Life Histories and Social Change collection reveal how such experiences were often disguised in the past and how, just as today, middle and upper-class people were frequently better able to cope with the consequences of disorderly transitions. They also show how young adults worked to maintain family relationships in the context of migration and return in different historical times. The authors show how the transformation of early adulthood took place in the context of changing inter-generational power relations, as Ireland moved from a social structure centred on small property holding to one with increasing opportunities for economic survival through waged employment. The chapter includes a discussion of public debates around the ‘de-institutionalization of marriage’ and marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Keywords:   Cohabitation, De-institutionalization of marriage, Inter-generational power relations, Transitions to adulthood

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