SOC327 2017 Tut5 – Wed 1530

Isn’t it nice to be in love? Isn’t the feeling of love wonderful? But wait – are we talking about the enticing, heart-pounding, sexualised passionate form of love, or the steady-as-she goes companionate form of love we feel for friends, families and partners we’ve known a long time? Or are we talking about something else? Should love be overwhelming or considered? Perhaps it depends on our social context.

The experience and structures of love and intimacy in society have changed over time. Love in the Victorian Era involved published etiquette-based rules of courtship, and considerations of many things besides how one simply felt – there was one’s gender, class, finances, and the social respectability that came with marriage and family to keep in mind. Moving into contemporary times, Anthony Giddens describes the ‘transformation of intimacy’ in the later 20th century ‘late modern’ period, which continues today. We have so much more independence now from the constraints of traditional family and gender roles, that we can (and do) seek love and the ‘pure relationship’ in any number of forms. And Eva Illouz argues that this has created a society of commitment shy people – men in particular – and new inequalities in gender and intimacy.

What do you think? Has love changed? Is ‘all fair’ in love and sex these days?

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17 Comments

  1. People’s values and beliefs surrounding love and intimacy have evolved throughout recent years. Previously, there was a “deep seeded belief that marriage was both necessary and avoidable”, Illustrating one’s status in society (Illouz 2012, p. 60). There has been a shift in moral standards to normalize the disconnection between marriage and sex (Illouz 2012).

    It is more socially acceptable to have multiple partners, and not commit to only one person in their lifetime. This has led to a sense of ‘commitment phobia’ whereby people are unable to “fixate on one partner” or “unable to desire” a long-term relationship (Illouz 2012, p. 78). This begs the question on whether compassionate love still exists. Can compassionate love be achieved when individuals have the inability to commit?

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  2. Love has changed since the Victorian era rules of courtship but not enough to say that love is equally the same for all. Whist the passionate all consuming love is usually the beginnings of companionate love its not always that way.

    I know of many people who are from an older generation that were part of arranged marriages. These couples have great companionate love that was not started with passion. They built love from a desire to build a future that was prosperious for both themselves and the greater family. Marriage these days is more of an induvidual choice and therefore if it fails the responsibilty for the failure falls on the two people in the marriage. Perhaps this has made divorce easier to go through with? In previous times both familes were consulted and often couples worked through their issues as they had a responsibility to their social and family connections to make it work.

    Im absolutely not advocating that arranged marriage is a fabulous option but I am highlighting the influence of social connections in keeping people in relationships that are beneficial to the community around them. Additionally in cultures, that do encourage arranged marriage, they are essentially excluding those that dont identify as hetrosexual from paeticipating in open passionate and companionate love.

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  3. The way people perceive, act and endorse love has dramatically changed since the Victorian Era in the 18th and 19th centuries. During this time there was a “…surge in publication of courtship manuals”, such as “The New Letter Writer” or “The Lover’s Guide to Courtship and Marriage” (Hughes 2008). These books took people through the process of “…all human life, and love”(Hughes 2008). In turn, removing the involvement of feelings within love, due to their actions being provided to them by a book. Where as in today’s society, we are moving towards a more ‘pure relationship’ archetype. That is, “…a relationship that presumes sexual and emotional equality”, gained through a development in modern society that is pushing for equal rights between men and women (Giddens 1992). However, ‘pure relationships’ are difficult to achieve in today’s society, “…especially for women, because men emotionally resist women’s attempts to commit to a long term relationship” (Illouz 2012, p.66). This trouble to commit in today’s society has been influenced by the increased freedom to choose one’s own partner. In turn, influencing a declined number of people wanting to be married, higher divorce rates and older age in which people decide to marry.

    By looking at these changes over time, I do believe love has changed within society from it being one of rules and constraints, to having more freedom in sexual acts and in whom we choose to have a relationship with. I think to have a successful relationship in today’s society we need to have the initial ‘passionate love’, which we feel towards someone we find “…relatively good looking, personable, affectionate and similar to ourselves” (Cherry 2016). While also having lasting ‘compassionate love’ “of mutual respect, trust and affection” for one’s partner (Cherry 2016). In having this kind of relationship, we can gain a new lease on love and sex, over come commitment issues that are dominant in modern society and gain a relationship which is balanced on “…mutual self-disclosure and appreciation of each other’s unique qualities”(Jamieson 1999, p.477).

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  4. Love has certainly changed over time. Love in the victorian era was much more traditional. The man would put in the work to gain the lady’s respect, there seemed to be much more work put into a relationship then these days. I feel technology is somewhat to blame for the dramatic change. These days there are so many options, so many dating websites.. even Facebook and instagram can be considered a dating website. Men and women both have so many options it seems that everyone has become so replaceable, both men and woman seem to put little to no effort into the process of finding someone and falling in love.

    Thats not to say everyone or every case is the same, but it just is not as traditional as it used to be. Possibly because peoples values and beliefs have changed over time.

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  5. Love can be interpreted in so many different ways by people who grew up in different social contexts. Love could either be passionate or companionate, or both. For me, and my social context, love is both; there is passion, but there is also this trusting, respectful and affectionate aspect to love that Cherry was talking about (Cherry, 2016). This kind of love, which I believe is felt by many people has not always been structured this way in society.

    Love and intimacy in the Victorian Era for example, were strongly structured around gender, class and finances. Marriage seemed to be more of a contract than an act of love. Although Giddens (1992) described this as changing, where partners have more equal roles. I do and don’t believe this to be true. On one hand, women and men play these ‘love games’, where men seem to, or believe they are in control, however I feel to often that women have the final say. I think this was true in the Victorian era, where Ilouz (2012) described men as being quite vulnerable. I believe this vulnerability to still play true today.

    So I feel love has changed, in that love is less a matter of class or finance, and has become more of a mix of passionate and companionate love instead of contractual, where women and men have grown more equal. I however definitely do not this that all relationships reflect equality. ‘Love games’ play out between sexes. Often more men than women believe in sexual freedom; looking for more passionate love, rendering a lot of them with ‘commitment-phobia’, where as women feel more of a rush towards commitment; looking for a combination of companionate and passion.

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  6. Giddens discusses that transformation of intimacy as brings a subversive influence on modern institutions as a whole, for a social world in which the dominant ideal was to achieve intrinsic rewards from the company of other might be vastly different from that which we know at present. ‘Plastic sexuality’ Giddens describes as the emergence of sexuality being freed from the inherent relation to reproduction. In contrast to Eva Illouz’s concept that society has become ‘commitment shy’, I believe that society has been able to evolve to allow individuals both men and women to be pickier. For example, online dating technologies introduce micro connections within society to allow compatibility, mutual interests and emotions to govern the progress of the relationship as opposed to dowry’s, arrange marriages or shotgun weddings. I agree as Giddens discussed the evolution of societies ability to discover love through passion more so than an old-school companionate.

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  7. During last week’s lecture, we learnt about two types of love: passionate and companionate. Passionate love revolves around the concept of romantic relationships and being in love. Companionate love relates to platonic love, such as the love one feels for their friends and family.

    Perhaps it is not the emotions associated with loving and being in love that has not changed drastically but rather everything that occurs when a person decides to love and be in love. After all, we can still relate to TV shows and films from over two decades ago when characters describe how they feel when they are in love. It is argued that there are individuals who long for a “pure relationship” (Jamieson 1999, p. 477). This is a relationship in which both individuals are open with each other, gain each other’s trust, and genuinely enjoy each other’s unique characteristics and traits (Jamieson 1999, p. 477).

    The difficulty of achieving a “pure relationship” (Jamieson 1999, p. 477) stems from the concept and reality of commitment phobia (Illouz 2012, p. 59). It is argued that this difficult is caused due to the fact that men are hesitant about their emotions and are much more likely to be unwilling about making a long-term commitment to a relationship (Illouz 2012, p. 66). The behaviour of men is not the only factor to consider when it comes to commitment phobia. One must also take into account the fact that, in today’s society, there is much more flexibility and acceptance in regards to unmarried cohabitation and engaging in casual “hooking up” (Illouz 2012, p. 66).

    Whilst one could argue that the feelings associated with loving and being in love can still be just as intense today as they were in the past, perhaps the concepts of passionate love and companionate love are not as traditional as they once were. A “pure relationship” (Jamieson 1999, p. 477) can be the ideal and the relationship that people wish to achieve, however, the ongoing changes in values and the independent goals that people set for themselves definitely influence the type of relationship they choose to pursue (Illouz 2012, p. 107).

    Reference List

    Illouz, E 2012, ‘Commitment Phobia and the New Architecture of Romantic Choice’, in Why Love Hurts: A Sociological Explanation, Polity, Cambridge, pp. 59-108.

    Jamieson, L 1999, ‘Intimacy Transformed? A Critical Look at the ‘Pure Relationship’ in Sociology, pp. 477-494.

  8. How we pursue love and relationships in late modernity has dramatically changed in comparison to the 18th and 19th centuries. This change can be partly understood through Anthony Giddens’ (1991) study into the role of reflexivity as well as the emphasis we place on lifestyle in modern society. Giddens (1991) argues that reflexivity has transformed the nature of intimate relationships and family structures due to our increasing awareness of the social contexts of which our relationships exist. This, in turn influences our tendency to settle or commit. According to Gibbons (1991), we now gather evidence and reflectively monitor our life when making relationship-focused decisions. This differs significantly to previous years whereby decision making was highly reflective of traditional customs, church values, and the paths taken by our family members.

    Giddens (1991) also attributes our changing patterns of commitment to the importance we place on ‘lifestyle’ and argues that we now place great value on choice, freedom and flexibility and reflectively planning our future. The Guardian author, Maureen Rice, offers her perspective on love in the 21st century and argues that although we desire relationships that are “emotionally fulfilling, physically exciting, familiarly stable, and mutually nourishing” (Rice, 2003), these things can often be found though other aspects of life (e.g. friends, travel, interests, work, family) and we need not solely rely on our partners to provide such things. This view reinforces Giddens’ (1991) argument regarding our eagerness to commit due the diversity of opportunities available to us and changing social roles.

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    Giddens, A 1991, ‘Modernity and Self-Identity’ Cambridge: Polity Press

    Rice, M 2003, ‘Love in the 21st Century’, The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2003/apr/20/features.magazine27

  9. The feeling of being in love is wonderful and exciting. Jamieson states that in ‘confluent love’ sexuality and intimacy are tied together as never before. It has always been difficult to define love. There are so many stories associated with romantic love as well as tragic love. However sometimes people believe that love is not required for a relationship. Jamieson expresses that “it is quite possible to have intensely intimate relationships which are not sexual and sexual relationships which are devoid of intimacy.” Love has not changed over the years. As Jamieson states, it is still a form “of self exploration and moral construction.” In the current world, love can be expressed in several different ways. There have been so many days that have been created for people to express their love to others, like Chocolate Day, Propose Day and days like Mothers Day and Fathers Day. There are different types of love like the ones showered on parents, partners, friends and even pets.
    Love has become more complicated over the years as it is an emotion that everyone is allowed to feel in the twenty first century. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, people born in low working class families were not allowed to express their love to others by gifting them roses. There was a hierarchical present during the time where people from different classes could not get married. It was considered almost like a crime. Most of the marriages that happened between people during that time, like the upper class people, were arranged marriages that were decided by their parents. This is a reason why the movie Titanic was a massive high grossing film as people who watched it in 1997 were so fascinated by a love story between an upper class woman and a lower class man.
    These days, relationships have less boundaries. However, it is difficult to define whether everyone who is in a relationship these days are in love or if it is just a relationship based on casual flings and lust. In the past centuries, women could never be in prior relationships before their marriages. As most marriages were arranged, the people were forced to love their partners as they had no choice in the past centuries. However, with the development of technology and law, people are now allowed to divorce their partners and find love again by remarriage. Hence, love has now become a continuous, never ending process. It has become fair in love and sex these days as being in sexual relationships before the age of eighteen is common among teenagers in the present days, however it was impossible for teenagers to be in relationships in past centuries. It was a concept that was not acceptable and all schools were separate for both male and female students. People can be in love and have a sexual relationship but they do not need to marry in the twenty first century. This allows a person to understand their partner better, before they are finally allowed to marry them.

  10. It is an innately human characteristic to seek passionate and compassionate love (of course, varying levels for different people), so in general, it is “nice” for this goal to be accomplished. However, according to Elaine Hatfield, factors of timing, attachment styles, and similarity will effect how these relationships occur. We know from our own experience that if we get too clingy to a new friend or love interest, it is not too likely that they will want to reciprocate if they do not feel the same way.

    There has indeed been a transformation in the way that love is expressed, both passionately and compassionately, but I would not go as far to say that the feeling and emotion of these kinds of loves have actually changed within people. Instead, through emotional regimes, the way in which these emotions are able to be articulated and described have changed, as well as what is socially acceptable or not to be expressed in certain settings have changed as well.

    The work of Giddens and the globalisation process of late modernity explained in the lecture have shaped our current expressions and ideas of love. It is not a generalisation to say that women have more to be thankful out of these revolutions, because as priorly discussed in the class, freedom in the romantic choices were severely lacking, and from the sexual revolution/1970s onwards, they have had much more freedom in this area. With the advancement of technology as well, people fitting into more niche categories that are not heteronormative or do not ‘fit the mould’ benefit as well.

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  11. Feeling any form of love is a wonderful thing. Whether that love be the passionate love of the companionate form – having people to love in either form, usually, allows for great happiness.

    These days love is very different to how it was in the past. From the Victorian Era to today the way people feel, express and experience love has changed. In the Victorian Era love, essentially, had to follow a set of rules. There were ways to love and ways to show your love that were set by society. Love was set out and structured from what was expected of you and your social status.

    Today however love is more free. You can choose who you love and how you love that person. I think it is finding a love that will last forever that has become challenging. In the Victorian Era people worked things out, divorce was looked down upon so they were almost forced to sort out their differences. Today, people can have a new partner every other week and no one really blinks twice. This is emphasised by the number of dating apps and websites that exist, most used for casual hookups instead of finding their “one and only”.

    That is not saying that today there is no pressure to maintain face and maintain a ‘position’ or clique, in society of where we belong. Today instead the social clique’s include the standard ‘fuckboy’ and ‘YTB’ groups – the commitment phobia boys, which can also, but not as predominately, be associated with women. These groups include people who basically fall ‘in love’ for the night. When someone in one of these groups falls in love for real he looses face with the rest of the group and becomes and outcast.

    Perhaps, these days, love is just as controlled by expectations as it was in the Victoria Era. Instead what has changed is the way in which we can openly express love in all its shapes and sizes and the fact that love can be expressed in just about any social situation and isn’t confined to private life.

  12. Being in love with that special someone is a beautiful feeling. It usually begins as an intense feeling of passion, longing, and romance, yet over time it may evolve into something more; a compassionate love based on mutual trust, respect, appreciation, friendship, comfort and familiarity.

    A number of questions have arisen in my mind when thinking about love and sex in late modernity. I will share one of them with you. We, as a modern society, do not appreciate compassionate love in the same way, which in turn, contributes to the emerging ‘commitment phobia’ phenomenon. I argue that, although the feeling of love has not changed; the way we experience it has. For example, in the Victorian era, social norms prescribed that men should readily profess their love, whilst women were encouraged to hold back from doing just that. This is not the case in late modernity. In contemporary society we do not like to wait. We are lazy. We want everything NOW! We are not satisfied if something is not instantaneous; even love and sex. To find love and/or sex, all you need to do is download an app, swipe, swipe, swipe, and BINGO! Your love and/or or lover, could be staring back at you through your smart phone screen! In this sense, passionate love is favoured over compassionate love. Waiting is hard. It may take years, even decades for love to evolve. It takes patience and self-restraint and hard work to achieve a feeling of compassionate love.

    This aligns with Illouz’s thesis on ‘commitment phobia’ in late modernity. Illouz argues that the ‘doing of gender’ underlies this change. Although she cites women’s increase in power relations in areas such as, employment, the family, and social relations, her account is largely stereotypical. I do not think that ‘everything is fair in love and sex’ but Illouz has left out a number of key factors. For example, she ‘lumps’ all men together without considering how their role has changed in recent years, particularly in areas such as the relationships and the family. Furthermore, not all women prioritise having children, as more women are opting to be child free. (You will need create an SBS account to log in to watch this Insight episode).

    Therefore, the analysis on how love is experienced in late modernity is so intricate and detailed, it cannot be reduced to Illouz’s simplified arguments. Many other factors must also be considered; with the role of technology being one of these.

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  13. The nature of relationships has changed dramatically since the Victorian era in the 18th and 19th centuries. Whilst love was still a pre-requisite for marriage in this era, other factors were also strongly at play such as economic security and social status. Today, these other factors are largely stripped away leaving the opportunity for what Giddens (1992) describes as the ‘pure relationship’ where couples are free from traditional constraints and form relationships based on mutual feelings and ‘sexual and emotional equality’.

    This freedom from traditional constraints has allowed far greater choice in choosing a partner. This has caused a society of people with what Illouz (2012) defines as ‘commitment phobia’. These days people are far less likely to commit and are reprimanded for showing their feelings- particularly men.

    Many people are unfortunately missing out on compassionate love because of their inability to commit. It is this form of love, based on ‘mutual respect, trust and affection’ (Cherry 2016), that I would argue is what humans ultimately desire and it’s a shame that our society is going down a path that degrades relationships and intimacy (through the acceptance of multiple partners and an increasingly sexualised culture) and thus is seeing a decline of compassionate love.

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  14. What do you think? Has love changed? Is ‘all fair’ in love and sex these days?

    There definitely have been considerable changes to relationships from the Victoria era to present day. The accessibility (since the Family Law Act introduced ‘no fault’ divorce in 1975) and normalisation of divorces in society has allowed both men and women to have more flexibility to leave their marriage in a goal to find their ‘pure love’.

    In the lecture we talked about whether it is ‘all fair’ and the general consensus was that it is fair between the sexes in todays’ society. Reflecting on the readings and discussions from the tutorial last week, I would now argue that it’s not particularly ‘all fair’ but it is complex in the gender norm surrounding forming heterosexual relationships. In the Victorian era men were the emotional ones who expressed their feelings while women were encouraged to withdraw their emotions and wait for the man to initiate the relationship (Illouz, pg. 64). This has changed and it is now normal and acceptable for women to initiate relationships although probably isn’t even just yet (e.g. lots of women wait for the man to text first). Also the norms around marriage appear to not have changed, it is still unusual for women to propose, with most sticking with the tradition of the male to choose when the couple should enter a courtship.

    We are not as constrained by religion, family and economics as we once were in the past this has changed who and why we love. We have far more choices now than those even 50 years ago this has undoubtable impacted the changes in relationships and even the delaying of parenthood to later than previous generations.

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    twitter: nattworthington

  15. I remember being younger and having a different idea of love to what I have now. Love changes according to the ideas you have at the time, which in itself is directly funneled by societal beliefs and cultural context. As mentioned in the original post by Roger, using the perspective outlined by Jackson (1993) and Hatfield & Rapson (1993) of passionate versus companionate/compassionate love, I can analyse a change in how I have experienced love. When I was younger I believed in love as embodying only a passionate form but later in life I have experienced love more as a compassionate/companionate form. This doesn’t mean that both are exclusionary or binary for me, as I understand love to be a mixture of the two in a range of ways. What is interesting to look at here is the questions of how love changes and whether social context plays a vital role in this change?
    Certain change in society tends to reveal and spur changes in how one experiences love and intimacy within a respective society. For instance, Giddens (1992) illustrates the emergence of plastic sexuality, which entails the freedom of sexuality within modern society due to changes within the fabric of society itself, e.g. women’s gain of sexual pleasure through a change in gender roles. Such perspective of social context promotes the understanding that love is not simply split into experiences of companionate/passionate love nor is it simply reliant on physiological concepts; rather, love is adaptable and changes according to a range of social factors.

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    Reference List

    Giddens, A 1992, The Transformation of Intimacy, Sexuality, Love, and Eroticism in Modern Societies, Stanford, Stanford University Press.

    Hatfield, E & Rapson, R.L. 1993, Love, sex, and intimacy: Their psychology, biology, and history, New York, HarperCollins.

    Jackson, S 1993, ‘Even Sociologists Fall in Love: An Exploration in the Sociology of Emotions’, Sociology, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 201-220.

  16. I don’t necessarily believe that love has changed over time but more specifically how society has changed and the way we express love to others has. Society has evolved over time, particularly with the advancements of technology, which has seen the progression of society and the interactions we have particularly in the name of love.

    In the lecture, we learnt about the two types of love, passionate (in love with someone) and companionate (to love someone) that we can feel and experience. We can apply companionate love to our family, friends and partners as we think of love in a broad sense. Passionate love is more specific and linked to romantic love with a partner. I think there has always been both types of love throughout history but has not always been openly expressed amongst society as it wasn’t seen as appropriate to do so which Illouz discusses that women in the Victorian era were both reserved and passive in expressing themselves both romantically and sexually because that was not their role but the role of the man to make any advances. For example, throughout history, men and women haven’t always married for love but because it was what was the family and society expected. For some marriages, love may not have been there but grew over time into a companionate type of love which provided people with contentment and companionship. I think this would still happen today as people have different expectations of what they want their lives to be about and how they go about it in order to achieve this.

    With time and technology, society has changed and as a result it has given people choice and a greater sense of freedom, particularly women. Women now have more choice with regards wanting to pursue education and a career where in the past that would have been unlikely and the traditional role of wife and mother would have been the expectation. The majority of people would now have the freedom to choose whether they want to marry, be in a relationship or not which Illouz says has led to us being more commitment shy in the modern era. There are more reasons which has led society to become more commitment shy such as the divorce rate which would lead some people away from marriage because what happens if it doesn’t work out?

    I think the way society has progressed has changed the way how people view love and how they go about pursuing it. For example, people are more open about expressing love and sex than in the past and don’t have to be married in order to
    pursue relationships. In today’s society we have couples who are together and live together as if they were married but are not and having children out of wedlock. Society’s rules have changed in how we conduct ourselves when it comes to love.

  17. I think that love and marriage are two different things that need to be looked at separately when exploring how they have changed over time. Whilst today we equate heterosexual love as eventually resulting in marriage, when looking into the change of love over time it is important to note that marriage and love did not always go hand in hand (Jamieson 1999). Which in itself is a reflection of change. Prior to the 20th Century marriage was not generally undergone because of love, but rather due to financial, procreative and property needs (Putulny 2017). However, in the modern age marriage is very much a by-product of love. Very rarely in Western cultures are individuals portrayed as entering into marriage without the presence of love. In this way love and how individuals express such love, through marriage, is evidence of a change that has occurred over time.

    In regards to all being fair in love and sex, it is my opinion that all is not ‘fair’ or equal. There are double standards in society about how women, opposed to men, practice love and sex. The sexual practices of men are now seen as a symbol of status (Ilouz), with the more sexual exploits a man has the higher his status amongst his ‘mates’. However, women who have many sexual partners are viewed in a negative light, devaluing her in society and potentially impacting her future relations.

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