Home > Publications . Search All . Browse All . Country . Browse PSC Pubs . PSC Report Series

PSC In The News

RSS Feed icon

Weir's 2009 report on NFL brain injuries got more attention than neurological findings published in 2005

Edin and Shaefer's book a call to action for Americans to deal with poverty

Weir says pain may underlie rise in suicide and substance-related deaths among white middle-aged Americans


MCubed opens for new round of seed funding, November 4-18

PSC News, fall 2015 now available

Barbara Anderson appointed chair of Census Scientific Advisory Committee

John Knodel honored by Thailand's Chulalongkorn University

Next Brown Bag

Monday, Dec 7 at noon, 6050 ISR-Thompson
Daniel Eisenberg, "Healthy Minds Network: Mental Health among College-Age Populations"

Pamela Smock photo

A Case for Qualitative Methods in U.S. Family Demography: Understanding the Meaning of Unmarried Cohabitation

Publication Abstract

Download PDF versionSmock, Pamela, and Wendy Manning. 2001. "A Case for Qualitative Methods in U.S. Family Demography: Understanding the Meaning of Unmarried Cohabitation." PSC Research Report No. 01-483. August 2001.

Demographic knowledge about the family in the United States has been grounded in quantitative data and analysis. This is both appropriate and unsurprising given that a central mission for family demographers is to attain understandings of family structures and processes that can be generalized to various populations. This paper argues, however, that to fully understand the family and particularly new family forms, it is important to include qualitative approaches as well. Using the example of unmarried cohabitation, we first develop a conceptualization of cohabitation, combining sociological understandings of the family as a societal institution with insights derived from symbolic interactionism. We then argue that our conceptualization implies that qualitative, as well as quantitative, research methods are necessary for understanding family forms. Finally, we discuss possible barriers to fully endorsing qualitative methods by demographers studying the United States.

Browse | Search : All Pubs | Next