The curious absence of love

Carter, J. (2013) The curious absence of love. In: The Radicalism of Romantic Love: Critical Perspectives, 5th-6th, Australia National University, Canberra, Australia.

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Love has become an ultimate goal in life, one which permeates our culture through books, films, songs, television and magazines. Sociological debate has dealt with love in a number of different ways including: seeing it as a path to salvation (Jackson, 1993; Langford, 1999); a route to individualisation (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim, 1995; Bauman, 2003); underpinned by consumerism (Illouz, 1997); or temporary (Giddens, 1992). When 23 heterosexual women were asked about love and their experiences of love in their own lives in 2008, however, few of these themes emerged. Instead many women found it difficult to talk about their feelings generally and love in particular. There was an absence of falling in love stories and rather, women explained that they ‘drifted’ into relationships or they ‘just happened’; I draw on Tolman’s (2005) interpretation of the use of cover stories to examine this trend. Respondents also used a variety of modern love metaphors (Hendrick and Hendrick, 1992) to avoid discussing love directly. As such there was limited evidence of the radical nature of love; women’s accounts were instead conservative and love was implicit rather than explicit. There is a fundamental contradiction between the ever-present image of love and the silence in young women’s narratives; particular language devices were used to convey their notions of love indirectly. Therefore there appear to be two processes at work: a difficulty in expressing love-like emotions, and the more general tendency to drift into love relationships as part of a wider trend towards relaxed courting regulations.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM1001 Social psychology > HM1106 Interpersonal relations. Social behavior
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology
Depositing User: Dr Julia Carter
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2015 11:02
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2015 16:30

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00