New intimate relations in later life - Changed forms of intimacy in late modern society

Project leader

Funding source

Forte - Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2010
End date: 31/12/2011
Funding: 1400000 SEK


In family sociology it is often argued that in late modern societies intimacy has been liberated from its reproductive function and is consequently no longer associated with any particular period in life. Similarly, in social gerontology it has been argued that the extension of the healthy life span has created a "third age" of self realization in which intimate relationships may play an important part. In Sweden today there are over one million single people (never married, divorced, widowed), 60 years or older, the majority of which are women, and the proportion of divorced older people is increasing. People live longer lives and new generations with potentially new values grow into old age. Despite these historical trends very little research, in Sweden as well as internationally, has studied new intimate relationships in old age and the role they play in the life older people.

The purpose of the present research project is to study: a) attitudes to, b) expectations of, and c) experiences of new intimate relationships in later life. We will study these questions both from a gender and a biographical perspective. The project will be carried out through qualitative interviews with a strategically selected sample of 60-90 year old men and women with experiences of different forms of new relationships in old age (new marriage, cohabitation, "living apart together", random sexual contacts, same sex relationships etc.). The study will help to make visible new forms of intimacy among older people and the role that these relationships play for their quality of life. Furthermore, it will give suggestions as to how care and support for older people is, and will be, structured in late modern society.

External Partners

Last updated on 2017-29-03 at 17:13