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The Role of Financial Independence in the Construction of the Contemporary Conjugal Bond - An Analysis of the Financial Individualization Process in Three Generations of Couples

Caroline Henchoz

A comparison of the financial practices of three generations of middle-class Swiss couples allows the author to stress the central roles played by economic independence in the creation of contemporary conjugal relationships. Financial autonomy, a status that has become ever more attractive to couples of the new generation, not only contributes to promote individual independence, it also opens the door to a new form of conjugal solidarity, less statutory and more emotional than in the past. Historically, the process of individualizing the financial relationship is above all a reflection of the ongoing economic emancipation of women. This means that the new conjugal relationship is partly predicated on the ability of women to access a traditionally male resource: money.