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Sociological Research Online 11 (3) reynolds
Keywords: Single Women, Narrative, Discursive, Identity, Relationships
Abstract: This article explores some ways in which women not living with an intimate partner talk about their relationships with men. Data are considered in relation to social theorising on the changing nature of intimate relationships. The analysis makes use of traditions in narrative analysis and critical discursive psychology to identify some patterns in the telling, including common cultural resources that are drawn on by speakers. Patterned ways of portraying relationships identified in the data discussed here include a self-blame approach in describing extreme behaviour from the man concerned, and a repudiation of any intention of commitment through talk of the positive features of relationships with unavailable men. A further way of talking introduces a 'new realism' in which relationships are depicted as right for a time but dispensable when their time is up. The analysis suggests that concepts of individualisation and impermanence in relationships provide new cultural resources that women can draw on in providing a self-narrative. The data demonstrate the detailed rhetorical work involved in producing a positive account of the self as a single woman.
Sociological Research Online 11 (3) simpson
Keywords: Intimate Relationships, Familial Change, Single Women
Abstract: Several theorists of social change have argued that there are profound transformations in social interactions emerging in the context of wider social, cultural and economic change, including a shift to greater choice and fluidity in personal relationships. Alongside this, there has been widespread academic support for the notion of individualism as a major explanation of family change, with several commentators raising concerns that changing familial forms signal increasing self-centredness and a decline in commitments to others. Remaining single can be seen as paradigmatic of such individualisation, and single women in particular risk being characterised by their lack of connection to significant others. However, there has been relatively little empirical attention to the relationships of single people. This paper draws on research on never-married single women in Britain and analyses their relationships with both kin and non-kin in relation to claimed transformations in intimacy prevalent in contemporary debates. It concludes by considering the implications of the main findings of this research for sociological debates about the changing conceptions of both intimacy and 'the family'.