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Katherine R. Allen

In: Gender, Families, and Close Relationships: Feminist Research Journeys

Chapter 5: Feminist Reflections on Lifelong Single Women

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Feminist Reflections on Lifelong Single Women
Feminist reflections on lifelong single women
Katherine R.Allen

I began to study older single women as a young graduate student at Syracuse University in a course entitled History of Western Family Systems and taught by my mentor, Robert Pickett. I was in my second semester of graduate school, and after taking courses in family theory and research methods, I was already uneasy with the ways intimate life was characterized in contemporary family studies. Authors portrayed adult men and women as following neat developmental transitions through normative roles and events, giving little attention to non-normative aspects of adult life.

Developmental theory enshrined these roles for women in the marital and parental careers of wife and mother (Hill & Rodgers, 1964). Although structural-functionalism had ...

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