Hegemonic heterosexuality, moral regulation and the rhetoric of choice: single motherhood in the Canadian west, 1900 - Mid 1970's

  • Author / Creator
    Ritcey, Joanne Marie
  • Single motherhood has been socially constructed as a deviant identity category. Up against the master societal framework of hegemonic heterosexuality, single mothers, as a social group, have been systematically discriminated against and subjected to moral regulation.

    The single mother has consistently been depicted as either criminal or victim, and she has almost always been cast as an individual actor whose lot is explained in individualized, apolitical terms. The current rhetoric of choice feeds the idea that single mothers in need deserve their hardships because they have freely and singularly chosen their sexual and reproductive behaviors and circumstances. In light of the historically constructed identity position of the single mother, it is evident that a more sociologically sensitive analysis of single motherhood has been culturally suppressed. Feminism has long been adamant about the significance of the role that reproduction plays in gender inequality. Queer Theory, with its critique of the sexualization of social life, is amenable to such a perspective and is employed here to illuminate how familial, sexual, and/or reproductive realities rigidify into overarching identity categories that shape and restrict rights and freedoms.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2009
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Golec, Judith (Sociology)
    • Morrow, Raymond (Sociology)
    • Sydie, Rosalind (Sociology)
    • Kaler, Amy (Sociology)
    • Chunn, Dorothy (Sociology and Anthropology, Simon Fraser University)
    • Smith, Susan (History and Classics)