It Is My Turn Now: How and Why ‘Single’ Women Complain about Non-Reciprocal Gift-Giving

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article employs the prism of gift-exchange to analyse the marginalised status of singles within social relations. We trace an emerging critique voiced by single women, who challenge the unilateral etiquette of gifting marital and family-making celebrations. While dominant social norms normalise gift-giving at weddings and subsequent family-related occasions, there are no commensurable opportunities for singles to receive back their accumulative investments in the life events of others. Drawing on various online sources, we explore the discursive articulations through which single women highlight the unfairness that underpins their position as constant givers. We show how single women manage the social risks that such public complaints entail, and how they claim to be worthy receivers themselves. This article offers singlehood as a valuable case study for engaging with broader questions concerning reciprocity – specifically, what happens when reciprocal gifting is not an established norm within ostensibly reciprocal social relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-261
Number of pages18
JournalSociology
Volume56
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Keywords

  • complaints
  • exchange
  • gifts
  • reciprocity
  • single women
  • social relations
  • unfairness

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