Research Group on Aging and the Life Course (FALL)

Research: ! Partnership


The changing meaning of partnership, marriage, and parenthood
Comparative biographical studies among social milieus

Supported by the German Federal Institute of Demography (Bundesinstitut für Bevölkerungsforschung, Wiesbaden), 1987 - 1988


The study focuses on differences in the biographical meaning of partnership, cohabitation, marriage, parenthood, gender relations, and the inner organization of partnership among socio-regional milieus.

With the method of the "narrative interview" we collected about 50 life stories, centered on the partnership history, in five different milieus: the intellectual, the alternative, the technical-professional, the working class, and the rural milieu. The interviewee group covers male and female, married and unmarried, with and without children.

We found strong differences in the meaning of marriage, parenthood, and gender relations between the five milieus. While the decline of marriage and the family is relatively strong in the intellectual and alternative milieus, there is much more stability in this respect in the other milieus. "Individualization" is not a general trend.


Dr. Günter Burkart (Director)
Prof. Dr. Martin Kohli (Director)
Beate Fietze (Researcher)
Tabea Mertz (Research assistant)

Main publications

Burkart, Günter / Martin Kohli (1989): Ehe und Elternschaft im Individualisierungsprozess: Bedeutungswandel und Milieudifferenzierung. In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, 15, 405-426.

Burkart, Günter / Martin Kohli (1992): Liebe, Ehe, Elternschaft. Die Zukunft der Familie. München: Piper.

Burkart, Günter (1994): Die Entscheidung zur Elternschaft. Eine empirische Kritik von Individualisierungs- und Rational-Choice-Theorien. Stuttgart: Enke.

For additional articles see our list of publications.

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