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Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y EmpresarialesFacultad de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales

Partnership and Family Life Projects of the New Spanish Generations

Financiado por
Government of the Region of Madrid, General Directorate of Universities and Research

Prof. F. Busch and     Prof. W.D. Scholz (Universtiy of Oldenburg, Germany) for the comparative project; Dr. G. Meil for the Spanish part


Family life in Spain is changing profoundly as it is in other Western countries. Considering that young people are the main agents of this change, the research project analyzes the scope of the individualization process among them related to their partnership and family life projects. The importance and meaning young people ascribe to the formation of a consensual union, to marriage, and to family in their life projects are key issues for study as well as their gender role models and how they are shaped by their experiences in their families of origin. Another key research question is why young Spaniards tend to marry when they could cohabite without getting married, which would be acceptable to most members of their social network and their parents. This research project was developed and carried out based on the framework developed by the Interdisciplinary Family Research Seminar of the University of Oldenburg (Germany); a common questionnaire was developed and applied in 2005 in Chile, Germany, Poland, and Lithuania. The study is based on a representative survey carried out among young people aged 15 to 24 who are studying either at secondary schools, professional schools, or universities in Madrid Region. A total of 1.589 students were interviewed

  1. To identify whether, in the context of the process of growing individualization, which characterizes social life in Western societies, the aspiration to become a couple and a family is losing importance among the life projects of the new generations. The role of one’s experience in the family of origin is also analyzed, particularly the experience of those whose parents divorce, in order to evaluate whether children of divorced parents are less attached to the idea of getting married and building a family.
  2. The research also aims to identify whether consensual unions are viewed in the same way as marriages or, conversely, whether the meaning and aspirations associated with a consensual union are different from those that are associated with marriage. Another goal of the study is to identify whether consensual unions are conceived as a step one takes prior to getting married, what circumstances make marriage seem necessary, and whether a consensual relationship is considered to be an alternative to marriage.
  3. In addition, the study seeks to identify what is meant by family and whether there is a growing differentiation between partnership, on the one hand, and family on the other, so that a relationship (marriage or consensual union) is considered to be a family only when a couple has children, as seen in some countries. The researcher also wants to discover whether same-sex couples, with or without children, are considered to be a family.
  4. Another goal of the study is to identify young people’s models of reference for the organization of their common life. In particular, it analyzes the gender role models for family life by finding answers to these questions: who should care for the children when they are small, should mothers stay at home until children reach school age, and preferred what strategies are used for balancing family and work life?
  5. Finally, the study seeks to identify the importance of socialization in the family of origin when young people choose family life projects and family gender role models.

Meil Landwerlin, Gerardo


In German:

Meil, Gerardo (2006): “Familienvorstellungen Jugendlicher in Spanien” (Family images among young people in Spain) in F. Busch & W.D. Scholz (eds), Familienvorstellungen zwischen Fortschrittlichkeit und Beharrung, Ergon Verlag, Würzburg, pp. 85-135

In Spanish:

Meil, Gerardo (2005): “La pareja en los proyectos vitales de los jóvenes: deseos y realidades” (Partnership in the life projects of the new Spanish generations: desire and  reality) in Revista de Juventud, 67, diciembre 2004, pp. 39-54

Meil, Gerardo (2008), “Pareja y familia en el horizonte vital de las nuevas generaciones” (Parnership and family life projects of the new generations) in Meil, G. y Torres, C. (eds), Sociología y realidad social. Libro homenaje a Miguel Beltrán, Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas, Madrid

Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales  · C/ Francisco Tomás y Valiente, 5 · Universidad Autónoma de Madrid · 28049 Madrid · España