Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 187–209

Kinship Strategies and Self-Sufficiency Among Single Mothers by Choice: Post Modern Family Ties

  • Rosanna Hertz
  • Faith I. T. Ferguson

DOI: 10.1023/A:1024709601456

Cite this article as:
Hertz, R. & Ferguson, F.I.T. Qualitative Sociology (1997) 20: 187. doi:10.1023/A:1024709601456


This article discusses findings from an on-going study of 50 single mothers by choice: women aged 21 to 50 when they become mothers, who are self-supporting economically, and who have chosen to become mothers as unmarried women. The interviews include women (both heterosexual and lesbian) who vary widely by race and social class. We argue that this group of women demonstrate ways of maintaining economic self-sufficiency—relying neither on the state nor on a male “provider”—through creative efforts at networking, resource sharing, and non-economic exchanges. We find that the route the women take to motherhood (adoption, known donor pregnancies, anonymous donor insemination, or “accidental” pregnancy) has a strong impact on the makeup of specific kin relationships between the mothers, their children, and others; yet all the mothers strategically forge or foster close ties which enable them to raise their children independently.

single mothers kinship networks self-sufficiency work and family 

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosanna Hertz
    • 1
  • Faith I. T. Ferguson
  1. 1.Women's Studies and SociologyWellesley CollegeWellesley

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