Understanding European Living Arrangements: Perspectives from Anthropological Demography

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Abstract: Living alone, or solo-living, has been a steadily increasing trend across a wide range of European countries over the last fifty years, irrespective of individual rates being low or high. Increases are particularly evident amongst adults of working age, at ages more conventionally associated with being partnered and raising children. A greater understanding of the processes by which people come to be solo living, and their commitment to remaining so, provides an important contribution to scholarship on the causes and consequences of changing living arrangements as an aspect of wider social change. While there has been some empirical attention to the characteristics and circumstances of people who live alone, conventional demographic techniques are insufficient to address the meanings and motivations that actors place on this living arrangement. Drawing on a recent study of solo-living in Scotland, this paper highlights the importance of methods that elaborate the significance of solo-living at the individual level. Interviews with solo-living men and women demonstrate varying experiences and motivations underlying the conducting of relationships across household boundaries. This paper draws on these interviews to illustrate the ways in which methods investigating individual experiences can contribute to a fuller understanding of trends at a societal level.
Period18 Dec 200919 Dec 2009
Event typeConference
LocationLondon, United KingdomShow on map