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

Lai, Ai-Ling; Ming, Lim and Higgins, Matthew (2018). The abject single: exploring the gendered experience of singleness in Britain. In: Arsel, Zeynep; Eräranta, Kirsi and Moisander, Johanna eds. Gendering Theory in Marketing and Consumer Research. Key Issues in Marketing Management. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 7–30.

URL: https://www.routledge.com/Gendering-Theory-in-Mark...

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 hightlight research gaps in the experience of singleness and critique the heteronormative framework that remains dominant, yet concealed, in gender research

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