American Sociological Association

Time, Anticipation, and the Life Course: Egg Freezing as Temporarily Disentangling Romance and Reproduction

This study examines women’s use of egg freezing as a tool to renegotiate the relationship between romantic and reproductive trajectories and temporalities. We interviewed 52 participants who were considering freezing their eggs, were in the process of freezing their eggs, had already frozen their eggs, or had considered freezing their eggs and chose not to do so. We find that most of our participants used egg freezing to disentangle the trajectory of finding a partner from the trajectory of having children, with the end goal of bundled marriage and childbearing. For some participants, this temporary disentangling is an intermediate step toward fully decoupling these trajectories through single parenthood. Using this critical case, we move beyond previous work on sequencing and timing in the life course by focusing on (1) individuals’ subjective experiences of time and (2) the ways women manage and manipulate time in the life course. Finally, we show how these theoretical tools can be used to better understand other empirical cases in the life course.


Eliza Brown and Mary Patrick





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