Date of Award

Summer 8-18-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. James W. Ainsworth

Second Advisor

Dr. Deidre A Oakley

Third Advisor

Dr. Adia Harvey Wingfield


Recent research finds that conservative Protestants are cohabiting in no small numbers. Given the strict moral orientation of conservative Protestants, that outcome appears paradoxical. This thesis explains that paradox through the culture in action models of Swidler (1986), given the social and economic location of conservative Protestants. The thesis employs pooled General Social Survey data from 1993 to 2008 in which a question is asked that indicates cohabitation. The thesis finds that the social and economic location of conservative Protestants is related to their cohabiting. Though conservative Protestant cohabitors have lessened religiosity, much of the decline in religiosity compared to married conservative Protestants is due to the factors leading to cohabitation. But views and practices on premarital sex are the greatest factor in reducing that difference. The evidence in this thesis lends support to Swidler’s models of settled and unsettled lives in explaining cohabitation among conservative Protestants.


Included in

Sociology Commons