Marriage and Cohabitation

By Arland Thornton; William G. Axinn et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
The Courtship Process and
Union Formation*

In this part of the book, Part III, we shift from an exclusive focus on parental influences during the years of childhood and adolescence to examination of the influence of both parents and children during the years when the children are making decisions about union formation. In these chapters we add parental aspirations and values, as well as the behavior, experiences, and values of the young adults themselves, as predictors of union formation. Our goal here is to examine the many ways in which the attitudes, plans, experiences, and behaviors of young adults influence subsequent decisions about marriage and cohabitation.

The chapters in Part III focus on the courtship process; religious affiliation and commitment; family attitudes and values; educational aspirations and experience; and occupational achievements. We considered several of these domains in terms of first-generation influence in chapters 5 and 6 of Part II. In Part III we examine each of these domains of influence on behavior more intensively by devoting a chapter to each of them.

Many of the predictors of union formation that we examine in this part of the book are, themselves, interconnected in a complex nexus of causal relationships. That is, parental aspirations and values; children's religiosity and courtship; and the educational and occupational aspirations and achievements of the children are all causally interrelated. This makes it

*Linda Young-DeMarco collaborated in the analysis and writing of this chapter.

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