Narrating singleness: life stories and deficit identities

Reynolds, Jill and Taylor, Stephanie (2005). Narrating singleness: life stories and deficit identities. Narrative Inquiry, 15(2) pp. 197–215.



This paper discusses a speaker's narrative and discursive work to counter the negative associations of an identity as a single woman. An analysis of extracts from one interview exemplifies patterns found in a larger body of data. The speaker's story does rhetorical work (Billig, 1987) against the dominant 'coupledom' narrative of a life which progresses through stages associated with the heterosexual family, including love, marriage and parenthood. Her own life narrative is structured differently. The three structures we discuss are resources which can accommodate the unique details of a particular speaker's life as a single woman while also doing work against commonly held assumptions that singleness is a deficit identity.

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