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The transformation of love? Choice, emotional rationality and wedding gifts

Carter, Julia and Smith, Daniel 2020. The transformation of love? Choice, emotional rationality and wedding gifts. In: Carter, Julia and Arocha, Lorena eds. Romantic Relationships in a Time of 'Cold Intimacies', Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 57-79.
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Illouz’ Why Love Hurts (2012) claims that love has undergone a great transformation in modernity. The choice of romantic partners occurs through individual decisions disembedded from shared moral frameworks and normative communities. Romantic love becomes a source of the self as one’s beloved affirms our individuality. Yet our choices bring with them the burden of foreclosed possibilities and doubts around ‘the right choice’. Modern romance potentially installs a consumerist ethic of reversibility to our romantic choices. This new form of romantic suffering accounts for not only why ‘love hurts’ but potentially the decline in marriage rates in modern societies. Here we explore the logic and limits to Illouz’s thesis. Despite the decline in the marriage rate, ‘the wedding’ remains the sacred centre of modern romance. Through a focus upon ‘wedding gifts’, we find in both cultural imaginaries and social practices the negotiation of, and limits to, the transformation of love. Our argument inverts Illouz’s logic of choice: the wedding is defined by the annulment of choice, a decision to commit in spite of choice. Through an examination of wedding gifts we demonstrate how the vocabulary of motives which pervades romantic relationships may well be premised upon individual desire and emotional reasoning, but this has not meant the wholesale takeover by either a consumerist ethics of reversibility or a removal of moral obligations to others.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN: 9783030292553
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2020 17:21

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