Passion, Submission and Motherhood: The Negotiation of Identity by Unmarried Innercity Chicanas

Ruth Horowitz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper examines the negotiation of young unmarried women's sexual identities in the cultural context of an innercity Chicano community. Previous work often views the unmarried mother status as unproblematic, that is, as deviant or as equal to a married mother. Values are assumed to determine directly the evaluation of the status of unwed mother, and motherhood is viewed as an instrumental action. This analysis of premarital sex and motherhood suggests that motherhood plays an expressive role and that the evaluation of a young woman's sexual identity is not directly determined by her becoming premaritally pregnant and an unwed mother, but her identity is negotiated. In this negotiation process traditional values are blurred and changed. Here nonuse of birth control cannot be explained by lack of information or irrationality but must be understood as part of the process of developing a sexual identity within a particular cultural context. The relationship between behavior and identity is viewed as problematic and the construction and symbolization of this relationship in a public dialogue is the concern of this analysis.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)241-252
    Number of pages12
    JournalSociological Quarterly
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Mar 1981

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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