Macquarie University
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Pragmatic romance: civil union, 'emerging adulthood', and the effect on marriage in France

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posted on 2022-03-28, 01:46 authored by Lara McGirr
Marriage rates in France have declined since the introduction of the Pacte Civile de Solidarité (PACS) or Civil Union Pact in 1999. Although instituted for same-sex couples, over the past decade, a significant number of heterosexual couples chose to PACS instead of, or prior to, getting married. This research studies the effect of introducing civil union on marriage in France. Second-wave feminists criticised marriage extensively for its exclusive, oppressive nature and suggested that civil unions might be an alternative means to legally recognise relationships. However, the French case study of PACS defies expectations. PACS is used as a transitionary union during ‘emerging adulthood,’ late teens to mid- to late-twenties, prior to establishing a nuclear family. Unlike marriage, PACS is easily dissolved, allowing individuals to move in and out of PACSes. PACS has placed marriage semiotically into a ‘higher stakes’ category, interviews reveal, especially given the prevalence of divorce, increasing the social value and clarifying what marriage signifies. Couples aspire to marry as much or more than in the past and look to PACS as a stepping-stone to marriage that requires less emotional, material or symbolic commitment. This research begins to explain the drop in marriage rates but suggests reasons why marriage rates are still higher than those of PACS. PACS is refining, not replacing, the significance of marriage in France.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Chapter 1. PACS, Catholicism and the feminist debate -- Chapter 2. PACS is not marriage -- Chapter 3. The dark side of marriage -- Chapter 4. A symbolic ritual, a consumerist's dream.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 55-62

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Anthropology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Anthropology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Greg Downey


Copyright Lara McGirr 2016. Copyright disclaimer:




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