Singlehood as an unscheduled status passage [chapter]

Kinneret Lahad
2017 A table for one  
In the Introduction, I wrote about an encounter with a colleague, during which she asked me how it was that a woman like me was still single. The presumption must be that this question wouldn't have been asked if I had been in my early twenties or late forties. But as a thirty-year-old woman at that time, her question was infused with a sense of urgency, and the hope that my single status would soon transform into a married one. It is worth paying attention to the expected temporal status
more » ... es that underpin interactions such as this. Precisely because these matters are rarely problematized, they warrant closer attention. In this chapter, I explore this transition as a social construct, and explore the various ways by which the status is produced and maintained through situated social norms and regulated temporal codes. To expand this analysis, I draw on sociological and anthropological studies, as well as considering my findings in relation to symbolic interaction traditions. This chapter expands the analysis of the expected linear life-course trajectory as discussed in the previous chapter, but from a different perspective. The focus here is a conceptual analysis of becoming single, through which I explore the discursive mechanisms and regulations that generally shape it as a biographical disruption. In the chapter, I argue that this process is undertheorized in relation to singlehood, and its temporal assumptions rarely critically examined. Timely status transitions are configured as part of a default life trajectory subjected to socio-temporal schedules. As Zerubavel (1981) stresses, schedules are responsible for the establishment and maintenance of temporal regularity in our daily lives. It is these temporal regularities that I wish to observe, casting a critical light on how and why they are taken for granted. My discussion examines this path in relational terms, through which the process of becoming single and the transition from "normative" to "late" singlehood is produced by socio-temporal truth statements. Thus, the stages of singlehood-or more specifically what I term as singlehood career, drawing on Goffman's use of the term-come into existence through a hegemonic temporal gaze. Throughout this chapter, I show how this gaze is established through social interaction, and is deeply ingrained in collective socio-temporal perceptions. Following this line of inquiry, I consider how the discursive switch of becoming single operates as a subtle non-institutionalized Kinneret Lahad -9781526116352 Downloaded from at
doi:10.7765/9781526116352.00006 fatcat:ihaggzr4dbdyvkurfae36pnnoe