Choice and chance: negotiating agency in narratives of singleness

Reynolds, Jill; Wetherell, Margie and Taylor, Stephanie (2007). Choice and chance: negotiating agency in narratives of singleness. Sociological Review, 55(2) pp. 331–351.



This article presents a discursive analysis of interview material in which single women reflect on their relationships and reasons for being single. Despite changing meanings of singleness, it remains a 'deficit identity' (Reynolds and Taylor, 2005) and the problem for a woman alone is to account positively for her single state. Our analysis challenges theorisations which would suggest autonomy and agency in how identity and self are constructed. It employs the methodological approaches developed in critical discursive psychology (for instance Wetherell, 1998) to look at the detailed identity work of speakers as part of the identity project proposed by Giddens (1992, 2005), Bauman (1998) and other writers associated with the 'reflexive modernisation' thesis (Adkins, 2002). By approaching 'choice' as one of the cultural resources available to speakers, we present a more complex view of the dilemmas around a speaker's identity work in her accounting for her relationships and the course her life has taken.

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