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Reproductive Sociology Research Group

New Publication by Linda Layne 'Alternative Domesticities: Spatial Dynamism in the Home-Making of one Middle-Class, Heterosexual, American Single Mother by Choice' in Home Cultures. Read the full article, available in open access.


Part of a long-term ethnographic case study of Carmen West, a middle-class, heterosexual, American single mother by choice (SMC) and her three children, this essay focuses on the dynamic way the Wests occupy their domestic space. The fact that SMCs start and raise their families without a male partner opens creative opportunities for imagining and doing domestic life differently. Drawing on the philosopher John Schumacher’s work on human posture, and my own ethnographic work with purportedly ‘settled’ Bedouin in Jordan, I show how the Wests make their home through positioning and repositioning themselves and their furniture, vis a vis each other and the material constraints and affordances of their house and their stuff. The unconventional, aleatory moving and mixing of the West family may produce subjects who thrive in an environment that calls for “flexibility…the ability to adjust continuously to change.” Beyond subject-formation, this case illuminates the co-making of collectives whether in a tent or suburban, single-family home.

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