About this book
Historically women have been defined in relation to men. Single women have been represented both as 'old maids' who could not get a man and as 'city-singles' who do not want a man. Both stereotypes potentially marginalise single women in family-centred societies. But there is also increasing diversity in family and household formations. This book explores both continuities and changes in the position of single women (unmarried and divorced) in London, San Francisco Bay area and Helsinki, Finland. The 72 women interviewed are a heterogeneous group in terms of occupation, ethnic grouping, sexual orientation etc. Their struggles to establish autonomy and independence are analysed: single women are learning a 'new script'. Simple generalisations are avoided, and the diversity of single women is emphasised. The theoretical concerns of the book centre on 'individual' and 'individuality' as gender-specific concepts.
autonomy family gender interview learning women