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Society’s View on Single Motherhood Essay


Family structures are changing globally, and the definition of “family” is taking an unconventional twist with personal arrangements and belief systems, forming the basis of argument and justifications. Single parenthood is on the rise due to unavoidable circumstances such as the death of a spouse and in some instances, due to alternative family arrangements or decisions by spouses. Single motherhood is common to the society compared to single fatherhood, and the former attracts mixed reactions against the society members’ subjectivity. Subjectivity, in this case, refers to biased views and perceptions about single motherhood due to beliefs and ignorance that bring divisions in the society. This paper evaluates the society’s view on single motherhood by investigating how an individual’s level of political conservatism affects his/her perceptions of single motherhood. The study will base its investigations on the feminist theory to evaluate social structure’s influence on individual perceptions. Also, the study will employ conceptual and thematic approaches to analyze principles of feminist theory and to provide a general explanation to understand the question under study. To validate the study’s objective, it will employ ethnography to evaluate existing data and research further on trends and patterns to help understand the social phenomenon. In conclusion, the study will discuss the significance of the supporting data onto the sociological theory and suggest further research on the phenomenon.

Research Question

How does an individual level of political conservatism affect how he/she perceives single motherhood?

Description of the Research Question and purpose

Political conservatism addresses social framework that emphasizes stability and continuity to promote retention of social institutions. Conservative philosophies and ideals seek to preserve the originality and authenticity of social institutions and moral behavior (Dorey, 2011). In their view, the family is the basic social institution whereby child upbringing is the role of the spouses. That is, male and female partners join their hands and efforts to bear and take care of their children, thus, forming the basis of a nuclear family. In practice, political conservatism calls for the sanctity of marriage institutions while advocates the right to life for every individual as provided by institutional behaviors.

Society’s view on single motherhood depends on an individual’s beliefs, his/her level of understanding, social dynamics, and the capacity of social institutions to address single parenthood. Single motherhood and its justification elicited global debate on a majority of individuals viewing it as one of the widespread informal arrangements to replace marriage institutions. In a broader extent, society believes that children from single-parent families are problematic, with a larger percentage of them being from single-mother families (O’brien & Sage Publications, 2009). The society’s view on single motherhood might be subjective without the understanding of social dynamics and evaluation of the institution’s capacity to address single parenthood. Historical injustices and personal experiences broadly contribute to the individual’s perceptions of his/her environment that influences social behavior and development — generalizing single motherhood as bad for the society does not only ill-defined individuals’ philosophical ideologies but denies social institutions a chance to evaluate their development. Ideologically, conservatives will address family from economic protection point of view, liberation and free conscience of the spouses and from the moral independence point of view to address issues of family autonomy and non-invasion.

Applying a Sociological theory

Sociological theories seek to analyze the status of social structures and institutions by evaluating moral behaviors and investigating their implementation for functional development. The feminist theory addresses various aspects of women lives by evaluating contemporary knowledge on the status of men and women in society (Andersen & Taylor, 2011). It acknowledges biological and psycho-social domains in life that influence society’s perceptions of women and how these domains contribute to the wellbeing or worsening of society.

Major Concepts, Themes, and Principles

Conceptually, feminist theory bases its arguments on key pillars of gender inequality, gender differences, gender oppression, and structural oppression to address social phenomena and how the marginalization of women is dangerous to society. Thematically, feminist theorists look into details of the aspects of age, social class, ethnicity and race, and how these themes influence society’s view on women. Principles of gender equality and adherence to the rule of law play a major role in justifying women’s moral obligations and capacity to improve society’s wellbeing (Hesse-Biber, 2012).

Society’s view on motherhood associates the biological differences in womanhood and femininity with weaknesses and lack of control of the child upbringing. Cultural feminists or political conservatives tend to view women as socially incapable of raising children by social needs. They, in a majority of cases, treat women as “others” from a patriarchal point of view and view single motherhood as a lost opportunity for the survival and continuation of a developed society (Ritzer, 2010). On the aspects of gender inequality, political conservatives view single motherhood as an institution lacking agency capacity for moral reasoning, social implementation and as a liberalized institution that does not promote protection and defense of the society. Ideologically, political conservatives base their views of the marriage institution on a commitment to faith and religion, and that family is the basic unit of the society, which needs to be holistic and functional. Single motherhood, in this case, indicates the violation of social traditions and the will of God as provided in the Holy Bible (Braidotti, 2011).

Political conservatives approach gender oppression in terms of power and psychoanalysis to address the value and strength of sisterhood about society’s wellbeing. For example, their view on the importance of a male partner in providing leadership and guidance to a developing child is candid and ideologically supported by their principle of autonomy and non-invasion (Hemmings, 2011). This disregards women’s capacity to provide leadership and cultural guidance to the children in the absence of a father-figure in such family setup. Odegard & Vereen (2010) observed that the themes of age and social class defined the society’s view of single motherhood based on economic and gender exploitation. The capitalist mode of production promotes gender and age forms of discrimination of women facing the worst scenarios. Political Conservatism’s explanation of single motherhood justifies the importance of a male figure in a family disregarding the establishment of single motherhood.

Data Collection

The study seeks to apply ethnography for data collection to eliminate philosophical bias and maintain evaluation standards. Ascertaining society’s view on single motherhood calls for a non-consensus approach to holistic real-life experiences and the development of cultural practices and perceptions on the subject (McCarty, 2011). Data collection, in this case, touches on the impacts on the situation at hand, expression of reality, reflexivity of the judgment about political conservatism and the substantive contribution of this study to the society views on single motherhood. Responses from class’ peer review discussion groups of 15 people each, community field notes and researched documents, provide details on data collection and evaluation of this study. Peer review discussions will constitute personal views on single motherhood, whereas community field notes will consist of 1000 simple survey leaflets from their local communities on whether individuals support single motherhood or not and their political ideologies. Researched documents will rely on archived information and data of societies and single motherhood.

Peer review discussions classified single motherhood into three categories, “willing,” “rejected,” and “accidental.” That is, the willing category consisted of single mothers by choice; rejected categories represented divorced mothers while the accidental category consisted of single mothers who were skeptical about marriage institutions. Groups’ discussions were based on observations from the local environment/areas of residence with 61 percent of group members admitting to disregard single motherhood irrespective of the cause. Twenty-seven percent of group members were torn between appreciating single motherhood over single fatherhood, while 12 percent viewed single motherhood positively. Seventy-nine percent of the group members confessed conservative affiliation, explaining the contextual 61 percent of ideologies against single motherhood. From a sociological point of view and the fact that peer review discussions contribute to the evaluation of the phenomenon, the discussion trends indicated worrying patterns of personal beliefs that deteriorate one’s attitudes to single motherhood.

Community field notes indicated that 63 percent of respondent disregard single motherhood based on holistic child development and leadership. Twenty-one percent of the respondents were torn between the sensitivity of the matter and the society’s moral obligations to strengthen the family institution, while 16 percent were comfortable with an individual’s choice of family structure. Of the 1000 respondents, 73 percent confessed conservative ideologies, and 59 percent of conservatives disregarded single motherhood as a social institution. The trend and distribution patterns explain the strength of political conservatism and their belief of sanctity of marriage and family as the basic unit of society.

Pew Research Centre for the People and the Press (2008) observed that societies gauge women’s ability to control their families and provide leadership on their social statuses and age. In their research on single motherhood and leadership, 2691 adults were interviewed, and 69 percent of the respondents viewed single motherhood as bad for the development of a society. The study concluded that society’s negative attitude towards single motherhood reflected the widespread belief of single parenthood as “cancer” targeting the family institution.

Conclusion and Further Research

From the data above, society’s negative attitude to single motherhood is overwhelming with patterns showing a significant section of the society’s disregard. Political ideologies seem to have significant command of an individual’s views and perceptions on single motherhood and single parenthood at large. Peer review discussions data, community field notes, and Pew Research Center supported the feminist theory in its effort to address societal attitudes towards women. From the data, a significant percentage of respondents seemed to be torn between family arrangements, cultural behaviors, and political affiliation. Addressing this topic in a broader perspective would require a detailed evaluation of society’s view on single fatherhood and factors that contribute to single parenthood about different races and geographies for a conclusive generalization.


Andersen, M. L. & Taylor, H. F. (2011). Sociology: The essentials. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Braidotti, R. (2011). Nomadic subjects: Embodiment and sexual difference in contemporary feminist theory. New York: Columbia University Press.

Dorey, P. (2011). British Conservatism: The politics and philosophy of inequality. London: I.B. Tauris.

Hemmings, C. (2011). Why stories matter: The political grammar of feminist theory. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Hesse-Biber, S. N. (2012). Handbook of feminist research: Theory and praxis. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.

McCarty, T. L. (2011). Ethnography and language policy. New York: Routledge.

O’Brien, J. & Sage Publications. (2009). Encyclopedia of gender and society. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications.

Odegard, M. A., & Vereen, L. G. (December 01, 2010). A Grounded Theory of Counselor Educators Integrating Social Justice Into Their Pedagogy. Counselor Education and Supervision, 50, 2, 130-149.

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. (2008). The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. Washington, DC: The Center.

Ritzer, G. (2010). Sociological theory. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Society’s View on Single Motherhood." May 12, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/societys-view-on-single-motherhood/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Society’s View on Single Motherhood'. 12 May.

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