Research

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Photo: © Jeff Kirlin

Dr. Amy Blackstone is a professor in Sociology and the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine, where she studies childlessness and the childfree choice, workplace harassment, and civic engagement. Her work has been published in a variety of peer-reviewed journals including American Sociological ReviewLaw & Society ReviewSociology Compass, and Gender & Society. Professor Blackstone’s research has been featured by various media outlets including the Katie show, public radio, the New York Times, the Washington PostBuzzFeedUSA TodayNew YorkHuffington Post, and other local and national venues.

On this page, you can learn more about Amy’s on-going study of the childfree choice. To learn more about Amy’s other research (on topics ranging from workplace harassment to faculty satisfaction to volunteerism and other forms of civic engagement), visit her University of Maine faculty page.

B.A. Luther College, 1994
Ph.D. University of Minnesota, 2003

The Great Big {Childfree} Research Project

A note from Amy

I began my on-going study of the childfree choice in 2008 after receiving a grant from the National Council on Family Relations. A sociologist of gender at heart and by training, I was most interested in discovering how gender and the childfree choice might be connected. Did women and men reach the decision in the same way? Did they think about their choice similarly? Did people respond to them in the same ways? Were the consequences of their choice the same regardless of gender? I quickly discovered that, while gender most definitely shapes the experience of being childfree, it isn’t the only factor.

The dozens (70 and counting) of childfree women and men I’ve formally interviewed since embarking on the research taught me that there is more to their stories than gender. They think about and form families in new and inspiring ways, they face workplace challenges because of their status as childfree, some are deeply involved in the lives of children who are not their own, they lead full and fascinating lives, they’re involved in their communities, and they’re happy with the choice they’ve made. I’ve also learned from my students whose research projects have resulted in even more data to analyze and learn from including a survey of over 700 childfree women and men which found that women and those for whom religious identity is important experience the stigma of their choice more deeply.

Since beginning the research, I’ve had the chance to share this work with my peers at conferences and in peer reviewed publications and with the public through the media and other speaking engagements. And the data continue to roll in as additional publications, presentations and other work rolls out. Stay tuned to this page for updates on the project and thank you for your interest in it!

{Childfree} Book

Coming June 11, 2019! Click here to read more, order the book, and see what reviewers are saying!

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{Childfree} Scholarly Articles & Chapters*

*A complete listing of Dr. Blackstone’s peer reviewed publications, speaking engagements, and other experience can be found on her Curriculum Vitae.

Blackstone, Amy. Forthcoming. “’Am I less of a woman because I don’t have kids?’ Gender Resistance and Reification Among the Childfree,” in The Truth about M(O)therhood edited by Julie Rodgers and Helene Cummins. Bradford, Ontario: Demeter Press.

Blackstone, Amy. Forthcoming. “Childless and Childfree,” in Macmillan Encyclopedia of Intimate and Family Relationships: An Interdisciplinary Approach, edited by James J. Ponzetti. Farmington Hills, MI: Macmillan Reference USA.

Blackstone, Amy and Mahala Stewart. 2016. “’There’s more thinking to decide’: How the Childfree Decide Not to Parent.” The Family Journal 24: 296-303.

Blackstone, Amy and Amy Greenleaf. 2015. “Childfree Families.” In Families as They Really Are, 2nd edition, edited by Barbara Risman and Virginia Rutter. New York: Norton.

Blackstone, Amy. 2014. “childless… or childfree?” Contexts. Fall issue: 68-70.

Blackstone, Amy. 2014. “Doing Family without Having Kids.” Sociology Compass 8: 52-62.

Blackstone, Amy and Mahala Stewart. 2012. “Choosing to be Childfree: Research on the Decision not to Parent.” Sociology Compass 6: 718-727.