Single Women pp 178-198 | Cite as


  • Tuula Gordon
Part of the Women in Society book series (WOSO)


I started by asking if ‘relativity’ still defines women as individuals, and if single women who cannot be defined in relation to men are ‘others’ for whom filling the space of an ‘individual’ is difficult. If so, single women would tendentially still he marginal. I wanted to explore whether there were continuities in the position of single women. I was also interested to find out whether changes in family formations had eroded the marginality of single women. Their location and status as outsiders may have altered as more people live in formations different from the familist ideal of a nuclear family. Moreover people shift in and out of categories more than they used to; marriage is more likely to lead to divorce, remarriage and so on. I noted in Chapter 2 that my initial use of ‘marginality’ did not problematise the concept. I realised that, if I wanted to use marginality as an analytical tool and not as a descriptive term, I would need to rethink what is understood by marginality. The term is frequently used and tends to refer to people on the sidelines, powerless and dominated. Though this understanding is countered by an emphasis on challenge from the margins to the centre, this is also simplistic. Marginality is not a place, it has no boundaries. Marginalisation as a process does not produce homogeneity and many members of groups who are on the edge do not consider themselves marginal. Power is constituted in different ways, and marginalities are also multiple (C. Davies, 1991).


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© Tuula Gordon 1994

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  • Tuula Gordon

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