The abject single: exploring the gendered experience of singleness in Britain

Lai, Ai-Ling; Lim, Ming and Higgins, Matthew (2015). The abject single: exploring the gendered experience of singleness in Britain. Journal of Marketing Management, 31(15-16) pp. 1559–1582.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0267257X.2015.1073170

Abstract

This paper explores the gendered experience of singleness in Britain through a theoretical and empirical understanding of the abject. Drawing on the writings of Judith Butler, we argue that singleness is culturally pathologised as an abject ‘other’, a liminal state which renders the legitimation of the single subject unintelligible. Through 14 active interviews with British singles, we demonstrate how our participants negotiate their marginal status vis-à-vis the marketplace and the broader society that continue to uphold heterosexual partnership as a normative form of intimacy. Our data uncovers persistent and powerful gender stereotypes of how singles ought to organise their lives and conform both to social, as well as market-driven pressures. We therefore highlight research gaps in the experience of singleness and critique the heteronormative framework that remains dominant, yet concealed, in gender research.

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