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"Singles": The Emerging Practices of Romantic Relationships among Russian Youth

Student: Ekaterina Degtyareva

Supervisor: Olga Savinskaya

Faculty: Faculty of Social Sciences

Educational Programme: Sociology (Bachelor)

Year of Graduation: 2021

Modernization theories state the significant changes that characterize the transformation of intimate relationships. On this basis new practices of relationships emerge. We conducted a detailed analysis of the literature on the concept of intimacy, tested them for their applicability in Russian realities, and developed a theoretical framework for analyzing transformation in the sphere of intimate relationships. The main focus in our study is «singles», people who somehow deviate from the «ordinary» concept of relationships. We have identified three groups of "singles": people who have given up long-term romantic relationships, unions that do not recognize themselves as a couple, and partners who live separately for reasons of principle. The empirical object of the study is “singles” aged 20-30, which is based on assumption that young people can be seen as the front line of social and political change. We tried to answer the question: "How do the practices of "singles" relate to the transformations taking place in the sphere of close relationships?" To answer the key question, we opted for a qualitative methodilogy and conducted 16 in-depth interviews with “singles” from big cities. An important part of the study was the development of tools for working with a sensitive topic. So, to maintain the proper level of interview quality, we used projective techniques, simulated situations and were interested in the well-being of the respondents. As a result, we found out that ‘singleness’ is partly a transitional state that follows the break up period and leads to some reassessment of the ideal. However, there is also a group of ’singles’ who actually oppose themselves to some "traditional" ideal. ‘Singles’ is one of the practices that reflects the transformation of close relationships in Russia, which raises the question of the need to highlight the existing diversity.

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