Thursday, September 27, 2007

Studying Singles

Here's the elephant in the room:

Make Room for Singles in Teaching and Research


Over the past few decades, the demographics of the United States have changed markedly. In 1970, 28 percent of Americans over 17 were single — divorced, widowed, or never married. More than twice as many households consisted of mom, dad, and the kids than of single adults living on their own. In 2005 more than 40 percent of adults were single, and more households contained just one person than married couples with children. In another striking departure from the past, Americans now spend more years of their adult lives unmarried than married.

It is not just the proportions of married and single people that are changing; so too are the nature and functions of marriage and the family. The nuclear family — which united marriage, economic viability, bearing and rearing children, love, sex, and intimacy — is splitting apart. In July 2007, the Pew Research Center reported that "just 41 percent of Americans now say that children are 'very important' to a successful marriage." And marriage is no longer the gateway to adulthood and having a family. The same Pew report noted, "In the United States today, marriage exerts less influence over how adults organize their lives and how children are born and raised than at any time in the nation's history."

Ways of thinking about single and married people have not kept up with those rapid social changes. Like other groups considered to be outside the mainstream of American society, single people are often the targets of stereotyping and discrimination. As one of us has shown — in Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After (St. Martin's Press, 2006), by Bella DePaulo — single men are often paid less than married men, even when their accomplishments are comparable; single people are often charged more than married people for health and automobile insurance; renters prefer married couples to single people as tenants; and so forth.

This is certainly something academe needs to consider in hiring. While business often complains about too much required socializing, we are often too much over in our own corner . . .

Labels: ,

You are so right! I'm always stumped when the men around my campus don't understand why I'm not champing at the bit to do more traveling. I don't have the spouse to leave home to tend house, animals, life. Nor do I have that second income.

It's hit me particularly hard lately. I've had to give up my one 'luxury' - having only one job. So not only do I need a spouse, I need a rich spouse.

Or, here's a thought, a spouse who would put up with the craziness of academia and a partner embroiled in same.

While I'm dreaming, can he be a hunk who thinks I hung the moon? With a sense of humor?
Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]