Journal Article

Repartnering and the Management of Risk

Jane Lewis

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 20, issue 2, pages 151-168
Published in print August 2006 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online May 2006 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI:
Repartnering and the Management of Risk

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  • Family Law
  • Marriage and the Family


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Social theorists working with concept of ‘risk society’ have addressed the issue of family change, suggesting that processes of individualization mean that family relationships have become ‘elective’, which has in turn raised questions about the nature of trust and commitment in intimate relationships. The position of those who are repartnering is particularly sensitive in these respects. Their awareness of risks may render them more likely to make only contingent commitments, or may make them more anxious to achieve a relationship founded on trust and commitment. We draw on in-depth interviews with a representative sample of people in England who have repartnered from a variety of types of intimate relationship into different statuses in order to explore the management of perceived risks. We find that for most respondents repartnering is a process involving different kinds of relationships, although living-apart-together is understood as something rather different. There is little support for the risk society thesis in respect of intimate relationships in respect of rejection of commitment and absence of trust. Rather, changes in relationship status often seem to be part of the process of building trust and of achieving the goal of a rather traditional relationship. This poses challenges for policymakers as they seek to regulate different statuses in different ways.

Journal Article.  8221 words. 

Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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