• People who live apart together (LATs) - how different are they?

      Duncan, Simon; Phillips, M. (Wiley Blackwell, 2010)
      ‘Living apart together’ – that is being in an intimate relationship with a partner who lives somewhere else – is increasingly recognised and accepted as a specific way of being in a couple. On the face of it, this is a far cry from the ‘traditional’ version of couple relationships, where co-residence in marriage was placed at the centre and where living apart from one's partner would be regarded as abnormal, and understandable only as a reaction to severe external constraints. Some commentators regard living apart together as a historically new family form where LATs can pursue a ‘both/and’ solution to partnership – they can experience both the intimacy of being in a couple, and at the same time continue with pre-existing commitments. LATs may even de-prioritize couple relationships and place more importance on friendship. Alternatively, others see LAT as just a ‘stage’ on the way to cohabitation and marriage, where LATs are not radical pioneers moving beyond the family, but are cautious and conservative, and simply show a lack of commitment. Behind these rival interpretations lies the increasingly tarnished spectre of individualisation theory. Is LAT some sort of index for a developing individualisation in practice? In this paper we take this debate further by using information from the 2006 British Social Attitudes Survey. We find that LATs have quite diverse origins and motivations, and while as a category LATs are often among the more liberal in family matters, as a whole they do not show any marked ‘pioneer’ attitudinal position in the sense of leading a radical new way, especially if age is taken into account.
    • Poverty and its impact on parenting in the UK: Re-defining the critical nature of the relationship through examining lived experiences in times of austerity

      Rose, W.; McAuley, Colette (2019)
      Current political rhetoric and some media commentaries suggest there is a yawning gap of understanding between policymakers and the reality of families living in poverty in 21st century Britain. A key reason identified for the disconnect between policymakers and families is the absence of the voices of the families in public discourse. In this paper accounts of the lived experiences of parents in poverty are examined in four UK qualitative studies published in the period 1998-2016. Their accounts highlight how problems of disadvantage can be cumulative, compounding and enduring. The struggle to provide the basics of family life and the role of supportive communities and relationships are explored. The impact on parents of financial stress, the sense of shame and stigma often experienced and the consequences for their physical and mental health are highlighted. Under the government’s austerity policy, there is an increase in poverty even in working families, an increase in homelessness and considerable evidence emerging on the damaging consequences of food and fuel poverty on the health of children and parents. Listening to the lived realities of individual families provides a much greater understanding of family poverty and its causes and consequences, provides a corrective to the critical pejorative rhetoric and lays the foundation for the provision of appropriate government support.