Waiting and queuing
in A table for one

This chapter is devoted to a critical analysis of the temporal construct of “waiting”. It argued that the figure of the single woman waiting to enter coupledom and married life has become deeply embedded in conventional thinking about single women. From this viewpoint, waiting is examined as an interactive setting, representing and producing rigid societal timetables as well as traditional feminine subjectivities.

Drawing on Mann’s (1969) and Barry Schwartz’s (1975) observations of queue culture, this chapter examines representations of single women also as queuers standing in line, waiting to enter matrimony. Observing and interpreting this social interaction as a queue offers multiple dimensions of analysis. For example, a temporal analysis of the queue as a social microsystem lends insight to how temporal norms and temporal mechanisms are established. From this perspective, the status of single women can be measured according to their location within and outside what is termed as a heteronormative queue. In much the same way – and by extending Pierre Bourdieu’s (2000) work, waiting is perceived as both an exercise and effect of power. It is argued that these sets of images constitute compliant temporal subjectivities, which are part of an unquestioned heteronormative order.

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A table for one

A critical reading of singlehood, gender and time

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