Although feminist scholars have devoted much theorizing to the institution of marriage as an arena of women’s oppression, a far less academic discourse focuses on those women who do not enter this sacred institution. In an effort to address the issue of the never-married woman’s position in the Bourdieusian field, this article problematizes the paradox of their simultaneously owning and lacking certain significant cultural, social, and symbolic capital. This paper takes a qualitative study of Jewish matchmakers and the way they interact with their clients as a case study for developing the concept of post-feminist symbolic violence. In addition it shows how the potency of marital status–a private matter for each individual–is gendered and turned into a public and collective concern, and consequently used as a basis for stratification and hierarchy within the social category of women. Giddens’ conceptualization of shame is seen as a central theme underlying the self-victimization of never-married women to the denial of authentic agency by the matchmakers, who rule and direct the reproduction of the cultural ethos prevalent in the society they live in. Never-married women constitute the others who are located at the bottom of the social hierarchy.
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- pure relationship
- symbolic violence