Shelves: tried-but-quit I have no idea why this book was published with catchy title and intriguing cover; it is so densely academic and in love with its own post-structuralist critical sociological theory jargon that it was virtually unreadable -- and I have a pretty high familiarity with and tolerance for post-structuralist critical theory jargon. Fair enough. Illouz does a fantastic job of comparing the ideas of love and marriage in the past to the modern ideas we as a society have now towards the subjects. As a woman, reading this book was interesting for me because it was so easy to relate to; however, I believe there is sort of a bias involved in the writing of the book being as Illouz is a feminist sociologist. In terms of sociology and the sociological explanations behind why love does in fact hurt, Illouz is able to pull from the many findings of many different sociologists including Bordeau, Hirsch, Mead, and Marx to name a few. Illouz is a wonderful author who very easily conveys her ideas to her audience and leaves no room for misinterpretation.
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But why is it, really, that frustration is indelible to satisfaction in romance? She writes: When relationships do get formed, agonies do not fade away, as one may feel bored, anxious, or angry in them; have painful arguments and conflicts; or, finally, go through the confusion, self-doubts, and depression of break-ups or divorces…. Despite the widespread and almost collective character of these experiences, our culture insists they are the result of faulty or insufficiently mature psyches.
The rise of clinical psychology in the twentieth century only solidified and granted scientific legitimacy to this notion that our romantic misery is a function of our psychological failings — an idea that caught on in large part because implicit to it was the promise that those failings can be deconditioned.
And yet, Illouz argues, such overemphasis on individual shortcomings gravely warps the broader reality — a reality in which the systems, institutions, and social contracts that govern our existence seed the core ambivalence of love and life: what we really want.
She writes: In the same way that at the end of the nineteenth century it was radical to claim that poverty was the result not of dubious morality or weak character, but of systematic economic exploitation, it is now urgent to claim not that the failures of our private lives are the result of weak psyches, but rather that the vagaries and miseries of our emotional life are shaped by institutional arrangements… What is wrong are not dysfunctional childhoods or insufficiently self-aware psyches, but the set of social and cultural tensions and contradictions that have come to structure modern selves and identities.
Art from Love Is Walking Hand in Hand by Charles Schulz, What Marx demonstrated about commodities in the marketplace Illouz aims to demonstrate about the economy of love: [Love] is shaped and produced by concrete social relations [and] circulates in a marketplace of unequal competing actors… Some people command greater capacity to define the terms in which they are loved than others. Devoid of these fantasies, we would lead our lives without commitment to higher principles and values, without the fervor and ecstasy of the sacred, without the heroism of saints, without the certainty and orderliness of divine commandments, but most of all without those fictions that console and beautify.
Such sobering up is nowhere more apparent than in the realm of love, which for several centuries in the history of Western Europe had been governed by the ideals of chivalry, gallantry, and romanticism. The male ideal of chivalry had one cardinal stipulation: to defend the weak with courage and loyalty. It is therefore unsurprising that love has been historically so powerfully seductive to women; it promised them the moral status and dignity they were otherwise denied in society and it glorified their social fate: taking care of and loving others, as mothers, wives, and lovers.
Thus, historically, love was highly seductive precisely because it concealed as it beautified the deep inequalities at the heart of gender relationships. To study love is not peripheral but central to the study of the core and foundation of modernity. As sexuality became unmoored from morality, love became a currency for social mobility. Illouz places this shift alongside the Scientific Revolution, the invention of the printing press, and the rise of capitalism in its effects on our lives and our basic experience of identity.
When love triumphs, so this story goes, marriages of convenience and interest disappear, and individualism, autonomy, and freedom are triumphant. What makes love such a chronic source of discomfort, disorientation, and even despair … can be adequately explained only by sociology and by understanding the cultural and institutional core of modernity.
The institutional organization of marriage predicated on monogamy, cohabitation, and the pooling of economic resources together in order to increase wealth precludes the possibility of maintaining romantic love as an intense and all-consuming passion. Such a contradiction forces agents to perform a significant amount of cultural work in order to manage and reconcile the two competing cultural frames.
This juxtaposition of two cultural frames in turn illustrates how the anger, frustration, and disappointment that often inhere in love and marriage have their basis in social and cultural arrangements. How to reconcile these competing cultural frames and manage the deep, daily frustrations they germinate is what Illouz goes on to explore in the remainder of the illuminating Why Love Hurts.
Complement it with philosopher Alain Badiou on how we fall and stay in love and Anna Dostoyevsky on the secret to a happy marriage. It takes me hundreds of hours a month to research and compose, and thousands of dollars to sustain.
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Why Love Hurts: A Sociological Explanation
Eva Illouz. Polity Press. March Here Illouz adds a much needed intervention, shedding light on how the personal and the social intersect in shaping the romantic self in late modernity. She suggests that the individual navigates their way through complex social structures and institutions which frame the rules around and cultural rituals of love, drawing on the resources which they have personally accumulated. It is this social-psychic trajectory which Illouz posits as the modern condition of love; an experience that is shaped through inevitable suffering. Pre-Modern relationship experience was tightly governed by a clear system of signs which codified and ritualised signs of feeling.
Book Review: Why Love Hurts: A Sociological Explanation by Eva Illouz
But why is it, really, that frustration is indelible to satisfaction in romance? She writes: When relationships do get formed, agonies do not fade away, as one may feel bored, anxious, or angry in them; have painful arguments and conflicts; or, finally, go through the confusion, self-doubts, and depression of break-ups or divorces…. Despite the widespread and almost collective character of these experiences, our culture insists they are the result of faulty or insufficiently mature psyches. The rise of clinical psychology in the twentieth century only solidified and granted scientific legitimacy to this notion that our romantic misery is a function of our psychological failings — an idea that caught on in large part because implicit to it was the promise that those failings can be deconditioned.
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Date of issue: 23 September Description of the book "Why Love Hurts: A Sociological Explanation": Few of us have been spared the agonies of intimate relationships. Despite the widespread and almost collective character of these experiences, our culture insists they are PDF the result of faulty or insufficiently mature psyches. Psychoanalysis and popular psychology have succeeded spectacularly in convincing us that individuals bear responsibility for the misery of their romantic and erotic lives. The purpose of this book is to change our way of thinking about what is wrong in modern relationships.