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Contemporary spinsters in the new millennium: changing notions of family and kinship

Simpson, Roona (2003) Contemporary spinsters in the new millennium: changing notions of family and kinship. New working paper series (10). Gender Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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Familial change in recent decades has been the subject of much academic theorising and political attention, with concerns raised that changing familial forms signal a decline in obligations and commitments and a concomitant rise in selfish individualism. Remaining single can be seen as paradigmatic of individualism in contemporary Western societies, and single women in particular risk being depicted as strident individualists characterised by their lack of connection to significant others, despite their singleness historically being explained in relation to duties to care for parents and wider family members. This paper draws on ongoing research on the family and social networks of contemporary spinsters 1 . I look specifically at their caring relationships as daughters and mothers and argue that the changes and continuities illustrated reflect more an increasing diversity in the context and meanings associated with these caring commitments rather than their decline. I suggest this research both challenges a conception of the individual as autonomous and self-directed, supporting rather a more relational interdependent conception, and that it supports arguments about the progressive potential of diversity of familial practices in the context of changing cultural and societal conditions of contemporary Western societies.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2003 The Author
Divisions: Gender Studies
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Date Deposited: 22 Aug 2011 13:41
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2020 00:32

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