EVA ILLOUZ WHY LOVE HURTS PDF

This new book by Eva Illouz, Professor of Sociology at Hebrew University, sets out to do for emotional suffering and romantic love what Marx did for commodities, exposing the socio-economic underbelly of what we once took to be the natural features of a happy and fulfilling life. For those in her target audience, namely heterosexual Western women, Illouz hopes to offer a compelling account of how suffering in love has come to be internalized as personal failure. This book is a sociological exploration at heart, though it is less reliant on observations survey data, interviews than an abundance of literary and philosophical references used as if they were source material. All this is interspersed with cursory interruptions from the heavy hitters in sociology, critical theory, gender studies and psychoanalysis: from Durkheim and Marx to Firestone and Freud. One can also expect to find transcripts from personal interviews and interactions on Internet dating sites within the text.

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But why is it, really, that frustration is indelible to satisfaction in romance? Although unrequited love and the anguish of longing have a perennial place in our experience of romantic pain, Illouz is concerned with the pain that lives within actualized romantic relationships. 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. 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.

What Marx demonstrated about commodities in the marketplace Illouz aims to demonstrate about the economy of love:. Modernity sobered people up from the powerful but sweet delusions and illusions that had made the misery of their lives bearable. 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 perform gender identity and gender struggles is to perform the institutional and cultural core dilemmas and ambivalence of modernity, dilemmas that are organized around the key cultural and institutional motives of authenticity, autonomy, equality, freedom, commitment, and self-realization.

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.

By juxtaposing the ideal of romantic love with the institution of marriage, modern polities embed social contradictions in our aspirations, contradictions which in turn take a psychological life. 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.

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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.

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Why Love Hurts: A Sociological Explanation

But why is it, really, that frustration is indelible to satisfaction in romance? Although unrequited love and the anguish of longing have a perennial place in our experience of romantic pain, Illouz is concerned with the pain that lives within actualized romantic relationships. 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.

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