It is commonly assumed that capitalism has created an a-emotional world dominated by bureaucratic rationality; that economic behavior conflicts with intimate, authentic relationships; that the public and private spheres are irremediably opposed to each other; and that true love is opposed to calculation and self-interest. Eva Illouz rejects these conventional ideas and argues that the culture of capitalism has fostered an intensely emotional culture in the workplace, in the family, and in our own relationship to ourselves. She argues that economic relations have become deeply emotional, while close, intimate relationships have become increasingly defined by economic and political models of bargaining, exchange, and equity. This dual process by which emotional and economic relationships come to define and shape each other is called emotional capitalism. Illouz finds evidence of this process of emotional capitalism in various social sites: self-help literature, women's magazines, talk shows, support groups, and the Internet dating sites. How did this happen? What are the social consequences of the current preoccupation with emotions? How did the public sphere become saturated with the exposure of private life? Why does suffering occupy a central place in contemporary identity? How has emotional capitalism transformed our romantic choices and experiences? Building on and revising the intellectual legacy of critical theory, this book addresses these questions and offers a new interpretation of the reasons why the public and the private, the economic and the emotional spheres have become inextricably intertwined.
The Business of Marriage in the Twenty-First Century
Author: Suzanne Leonard
Publisher: NYU Press
Category: Family & Relationships
A fascinating look at the changing role of wives in modern America After a half century of battling for gender equality, women have been freed from the necessity of securing a husband for economic stability, sexual fulfillment, or procreation. Marriage is a choice, and increasingly women (and men) are opting out. Yet despite these changes, the cultural power of marriage has burgeoned. What was once an obligation has become an exclusive club into which heterosexual women with the right amount of self-discipline may win entry. The newly exalted professionalized wife is no longer reliant on her husband’s status or money; instead she can wield her own power provided she can successfully manage the business of being a wife. Wife, Inc. tells a fiercely contemporary story revealing that today’s wives do not labor in kitchens or even homes. Instead, the work of wifedom occurs in online dating sites, on reality television, in social media, and on the campaign trail. Dating, marital commitment, and married life have been reconfigured. No longer the stuff of marriage vows, these realms are now controlled by brand management and marketability. To prosper, women must appear confident, empowered, and sexually savvy. Guiding readers through the stages of the “wife-cycle,” Suzanne Leonard follows women as they date, prepare to wed, and toil as wives, using examples from popular television, film, and literature, as well as mass market news, women’s magazines, new media, and advice culture. The first major study to focus on this new definition of “working wives,” Wife, Inc. reveals how marriage occupies a newly professionalized role in the lives of American women. Being a wife is a business that takes a lot more than a vow to maintain—this book tells that story.
This volume extends the theoretical scope of the important concept of empathy by analysing not only the cultural contexts that foster the generating of empathy, but in focusing also on the limits of pro-social feelings and the mechanisms that lead to its blocking.
The language of psychology is all-pervasive in American culture—from The Sopranos to Oprah, from the abundance of self-help books to the private consulting room, and from the support group to the magazine advice column. Saving the Modern Soul examines the profound impact of therapeutic discourse on our lives and on our contemporary notions of identity. Eva Illouz plumbs today's particular cultural moment to understand how and why psychology has secured its place at the core of modern identity. She examines a wide range of sources to show how self-help culture has transformed contemporary emotional life and how therapy complicates individuals' lives even as it claims to dissect their emotional experiences and heal trauma.
This book addresses the widespread use of digital personal media in daily life. With a sociological and historical perspective, it explores the media-enhanced individualization and rationalization of the lifeworld, discussing the dramatic mediatization of daily life and calling on theorists such as McLuhan, Habermas and Goffman.
Few of us have been spared the agonies of intimate relationships. They come in many shapes: loving a man or a woman who will not commit to us, being heartbroken when we're abandoned by a lover, engaging in Sisyphean internet searches, coming back lonely from bars, parties, or blind dates, feeling bored in a relationship that is so much less than we had envisaged - these are only some of the ways in which the search for love is a difficult and often painful experience. Despite the widespread and almost collective character of these experiences, our culture insists they are the result of faulty or insufficiently mature psyches. For many, the Freudian idea that the family designs the pattern of an individual's erotic career has been the main explanation for why and how we fail to find or sustain love. 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. The problem is not dysfunctional childhoods or insufficiently self-aware psyches, but rather the institutional forces shaping how we love. The argument of this book is that the modern romantic experience is shaped by a fundamental transformation in the ecology and architecture of romantic choice. The samples from which men and women choose a partner, the modes of evaluating prospective partners, the very importance of choice and autonomy and what people imagine to be the spectrum of their choices: all these aspects of choice have transformed the very core of the will, how we want a partner, the sense of worth bestowed by relationships, and the organization of desire. This book does to love what Marx did to commodities: it shows that it is shaped by social relations and institutions and that it circulates in a marketplace of unequal actors.
Key cultural shifts have enabled a "new sexualization" of women. Neoliberal, consumerist, and postfeminist media culture have shaped ways of understanding female sexuality, embodied by the figure of the choosing, empowered, entrepreneurial consumer citizen-woman, whose economic capital determines feminine success (and failure). Informed by older constructs of privilege such as class, sexuality, race and (dis)ability, this version of sexiness also constrains by folding contemporary femininity back into previous panics about youth, excess, "bad" consumption, and appropriate feminine behavior In Technologies of Sexiness, Adrienne Evans and Sarah Riley identify how current understandings of sexiness in public life and academic discourse have produced a "doubled stagnation," cycling around old debates without forward momentum. Developing a theoretical and methodological framework, they expand on the notion of a "technology of sexiness." They ask what happens and what is lost when people make sense of themselves within the complexities and contradictions of consumer-oriented constructs of sexiness. How do these discourses come to "transform the self"? This book provides a framework for understanding how women make sense of their sexual identities in the context of a feminization of sexual consumerism. The authors analyze material collected with two groups of women: the "pleasure pursuers" and "functioning feminists," who broadly occupy positions across the pre- and post-Thatcher eras, and the changes brought about by the feminist movement. As one of the first book-length empirical studies to explore age-related femininities in the context of what "sexiness" means today, the authors develop a series of insights into various "technologies of the self" through analyses of space, nostalgia, and claims to authentic sexiness.
A more ethical economic system is now possible, one that rectifies the crisis spots of our current downturn while balancing the injustices of extreme poverty and wealth. Adam Arvidsson and Nicolai Peitersen, a scholar and an entrepreneur, outline the shape such an economy might take, identifying its origins in innovations already existent in our production, valuation, and distribution systems. Much like nineteenth-century entrepreneurs, philosophers, bankers, artisans, and social organizers who planned a course for modern capitalism that was more economically efficient and ethically desirable, we now have a chance to construct new instruments, institutions, and infrastructure to reverse the trajectory of a quickly deteriorating economic environment. Considering a multitude of emerging phenomena, Arvidsson and Peitersen show wealth creation can be the result of a new kind of social production, and the motivation of continuous capital accumulation can exist in tandem with a new desire to maximize our social impact. Arvidsson and Peitersen argue that financial markets could become a central arena in which diverse ethical concerns are integrated into tangible economic valuations. They suggest that such a common standard has already emerged and that this process is linked to the spread of social media, making it possible to capture the sentiment of value to most people. They ultimately recommend how to build upon these developments to initiate a radical democratization of economic systems and the value decisions they generate.