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Open Access Singles’ activities: Sociability and the ambiguities of singledom

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As the proportion of singles grows in Sweden, the number of commercial and non-commercial activities catering to singles has increased. This article argues that these activities are situating singles within relations to others and to a community, and are becoming sites for performing and negotiating singledom. Using Simmel’s concept of sociability, the article presents an analysis of two cases of singles’ activities in Sweden – a company arranging singles’ cruises and festivals, and a singles’ association. It argues that while the organisers talked about singles’ needs for therapeutic social contact, participants themselves sometimes used the activities differently. Rather than understanding themselves as in need of proxy social interaction, they either intended to find a mate, or found actual satisfaction in a community of singles that superseded the need for a partner. Apart from stressing the importance of sociability in understanding singles’ activities, the article shows that this latter conception also challenges normative notions of coupledom, for example, by allowing for singles with partners.
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Keywords: Simmel ; coupledom ; heterosexuality; singledom; singles' activities; sociability ; social needs; tactfulness

Affiliations: Karlstads Universitet, Karlstad, Varmland, Sweden

Appeared or available online: 03 August 2017

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