The linear life-course imperative
in A table for one

Chapter Two reconsiders two important temporal conceptions in the social interpretation of singlehood: the belief in progressive linearity and the heteronormative paradigm of the life course. The approach guiding this analysis integrates a social constructionist lens as well as recent theoretical developments in queer time studies, which challenge the heteronormative life course. Building on these perspectives, this discussion demonstrates the ways in which linearity and its related concepts such as progress, (re) production and continuity are socially and ideologically situated. A critical discussion of the linear temporal order serves as a point of departure for this chapter, which will be followed by examining its normative implications for female singlehood.

In the second part of the chapter, the life course scheme is analysed and re-considered as a major conceptual paradigm through which late singlehood is judged and evaluated. Thus, a case is made that the essentialist and naturalized life-course paradigm is a particularly powerful cultural template, but one that is rarely criticized in popular and scholarly discourses on singlehood and social life. Thus, instead of adhering to the prevailing normative linear paradigm of the progressive life course order, Chapter 2 critically re-evaluate its terms, convictions and its powers.

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A table for one

A critical reading of singlehood, gender and time

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