Couple Culture and the Production of Singleness

Shelley Budgeon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

66 Citations (Scopus)


Historically singleness has operated as a marginalized status while heterosexual couples have occupied a privileged position that confers upon its inhabitants a range of social, economic and symbolic rewards. However, demographics now indicate that single-person households are the fastest growing household formation in the UK, signalling the beginning of what some have termed 'the singles' century'. This article will examine how the stigmatized status of singleness is defined and negotiated within a culture that privileges couple relationships. Consideration will be given to whether it is possible for singleness to resist and transcend its 'outsider' status within a context where individuals are purportedly able to exercise a greater degree of choice in how they organize their sexual lives. Narratives that single people (across different sexual identities) construct about couple relationships and their own cultures of intimacy, constituted to a significant extent through friendships, are analysed. These narratives indicate that positive single identities are possible despite heteronormative regulations which privilege couple relationships.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-325
Number of pages25
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2008


  • singleness
  • personal relationships
  • sexual partnerships
  • heterosexuality
  • heternormativity


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