A1 Journal article (refereed)
Parittomuuden politiikat? : sinkkuus suomalaisessa julkisessa keskustelussa (2020)
The politics of pairlessness : singlehood in the public debate in Finland

Kolehmainen, M., Kinnunen, A., & Lahti, A. (2020). Parittomuuden politiikat? : sinkkuus suomalaisessa julkisessa keskustelussa. Yhteiskuntapolitiikka, 85(4), 370-381. http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi-fe2020091669826

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Kolehmainen, Marjo; Kinnunen, Anu; Lahti, Annukka

Journal or series: Yhteiskuntapolitiikka

ISSN: 1455-6901

eISSN: 1458-6118

Publication year: 2020

Volume: 85

Issue number: 4

Pages range: 370-381

Publisher: Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos

Publication country: Finland

Publication language: Finnish

Persistent website address: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi-fe2020091669826

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/71926


The number of people living without a partner is continuing to grow across the world. However, the tenacity of the couple-norm remains unaffected, and despite the demographic shift there is still a paucity of research on singlehood. Our contribution in this article is to analyse the Finnish public debate on singlehood, single people and living alone. Our data consists of media coverage from three Finnish newspapers, Helsingin Sanomat, Aamulehti and Ilta-Sanomat (2017–2018). We approach our data in a discourse analytic framework in order to trace how singlehood is defined in the public debate. Furthermore, we are interested in what kind of conceptions of singlehood are produced, reproduced and challenged. We offer a detailed analysis of the most popular ways of discussing singlehood. In the data analysed, singlehood was often associated with attempts to find a partner, and singles were compared with those who are married or otherwise coupled. One recurrent theme was to report on reality television shows in which singles are either supposed to find a partner or in which their presence is connected with entertaining and sexual elements in order to attract audiences. Politicizing singlehood and addressing singles as a disadvantaged or vulnerable social group was rare. Some individual articles focusing mainly on living alone and housing policy issues drew attention to the unequal treatment of single people. However, some articles covering the experience of single people challenged the couple-norm by voicing positive experiences. To conclude, there is an apparent mismatch between the growing number of singles and the ways in which social issues relating to singlehood fail to fuel any significant political debate.

Keywords: singles; people living alone; public discussion; media; discourse analysis

Free keywords: singlehood; public debate; media coverage

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 2

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 14:35