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Why Love Hurts [Hardcover]

Eva Illouz
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

11 May 2012
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.

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Why Love Hurts + Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism + Saving the Modern Soul Therapy, Emotions, and the Culture of SelfHelp: Therapy, Emotions, and the Culture of Self-help
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Polity Press (11 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745661521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745661520
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 16 x 3.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 399,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"A bold, thought–provoking book." Times Higher Education "An important book … full of arresting ideas about love in our time" Los Angeles Review of Books "A significant achievement, a major analysis of love and an important contribution to sociology. It deserves to have a wide readership wherever love is." The Australian "A valuable and much needed contribution to the Western discussion of how emotions and capitalism influence each other." KULT—Online "An insightful attempt at tackling the timely and difficult question of the relationship between romantic suffering and (post)modernity." FWSA Blog "Illouz interrogates the travails of modern love and charts a course through the emotional geography of contemporary feeling … [This book] will surely prove to make a valuable contribution as an addition to student reading lists, both for the ideas that it puts forward and for the lively debate and heart–felt discussion that it will generate among both women and men." LSE Review of Books "Like any sociologist worth her salt, Illouz pushes readers to consider how our experience of love might largely be created by the kind of society we live in. Tracing a sort of history of emotions through archives and literature since the Regency era, she argues that in earlier times people’s feelings about love and sentiment were quite different from those we take as self–evident ... It is not our own fault love hurts, Illouz tells us; it is inherent to our modern condition." Inside Story " Why Love Hurts is a tour de force, a thrilling read. Unseating the primacy of individual psychology as the reigning explanation for the travails of modern love, and demonstrating the profoundly social nature of our most intimate feelings, Eva Illouz etches a whole new emotional atlas." Laura Kipnis, Northwestern University, and author of Against Love: A Polemic "Eva Illouz′s Why Love Hurts is brilliant – the indispensable book on the social power and meaning of sex and love. And with a bonus: it cuts to the core of the modern emotional condition, all told." Todd Gitlin, Columbia University "Eva Illouz′s enormous talent to interpret vast empirical material from interviews, statistics, magazines, and novels with sociological imagination and philosophical understanding leads to striking and well–grounded results, such as the increasingly important role of sexiness and physical attraction in choosing mates. A milestone in the investigation of changing patterns of love and marriage." Axel Honneth, University of Frankfurt and Columbia University "In this bold and ground–breaking book Eva Illouz argues that there is something qualitatively new in the modern experience of romantic suffering. Readers may not agree with all of Illouz′s hypotheses, but none will fail to be provoked by them – and in so doing be forced to challenge their own assumptions about love and modern life itself." Susan Neiman, Director of the Einstein Forum and author of Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grownup Idealists "Recently named one of the most important thinkers of the future by German newspaper Die Zeit , Illouz could very well be the twenty–first century′s next great public intellectual." Guernica: A Magazine of Art & Politics "No one will be able to discuss love without referring to this book." Die Zeit

About the Author

Eva Illouz is Rose Isaac Chair of Sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a member of the Center for the Study of Rationality. Her previous books include Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism and Consuming the Romantic Utopia: Love and the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism . Her book Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery won the American Sociological Association, Culture Section Best Book Award, in 2005.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
One the one hand I really enjoyed reading this. On the other it annoyed me.

This book essentially pulls apart all the ideal and reasons behind what we call love and explains them. It has been extremely well researched and it makes sense.
I get it but then something seems lacking. Despite all the case studies and ideas I just didn't feel like I was left with much.

If you want all the theory you could possibly want please do buy this book. Just don't get it if you want answers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hackney Marshes 28 Jun 2012
By Dr. Delvis Memphistopheles TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The author takes a middlebrow alienated unreflected stance to the emotional connections of love, viewing the inability to emotionally connect as part of a limited perspective- the symmetry- perhaps a reflection of an autobiography.

The "Art of Loving," the pioneering work of Erich Fromm is completely bypassed, instead a postmodern sense of love is posited in its place. Perhaps love is not a desirable commodity, perhaps it is and perhaps it is socially constructed.

Trying applying that to a child, my dear; you are saying that love is a "commodity" that can be provided or witheld, as it is not innate or even desirable but is culturally defined. ...Errr...no. And here we return back to the feminist malaise of the 1970's/80's recouched within post modernism. Attachment Theory, the works of Robertson, Spitz, Harlow, Goldfarb, Ainsworth and Bowlby is all dismissed.

Instead we have romantic references to Cathy and Heathcliff, as an idealised 19th Century norm, reflected upon as a picture mirror of upper class relationships, in much the same way, no doubt, Dickens depicted orphanages in the latter part of the 19thC,- except minus the sex trade that was readily apparent. These books were written as recompense as much as a depiction, but sociology gets lost within its maze of its own making, throwing out Marx's theory of alienation, Vanegeim's "Revolution of Everyday life," Marcuse's "One Dimensional Man," Fromm's "The Sane Society," instead it churns out this unreflected prose.

Try De Sade for a picture of upper class relationships within the 18thC, whether overtly cruel, romantic or just plain nasty. This will provide a picture of a mind ranging across a panorama of emotional sterility, recompensed through the application of power.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Feast for the academic 1 Aug 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Why love hurts is a deconstruction of the social rather than psychological reasons of why love continues to hurt in a post- or late-modern society, even when the constraints on behaviour of early modernity have been cast off. If you just want to know the answer to the question (or the author's answer), then read the epilogue which sums it all up. But that is to miss the point and the enormous delight of this book.

Eva Illouz is one of those rare academic writers who seems to know absolutely everything, and has the trick of informing the reader while letting the reader think that they knew it all along. You come away from this book not thinking how clever the author is, but delighting in a shared knowledge. To that she adds a highly incisive analytical style. Virtually every page tackles its subject by analysing it into key components, giving in the end a vast web of analysis which underpins her conclusions.

As it happens I don't agree with her conclusions, and, unless you are a radical feminist academic, you probably won't either -- but the journey to reach them is such a feast that this is scarcely important. Why Love Hurts works best as an exploration of the territory, and its sole non-academic purpose -- as Illouz explains in the epilogue -- is to ease the pain somewhat.

On the way, without ever becoming frumpy or bad-tempered, the author dismisses the work and effect of the army of helpers, be they psychologists, therapists, friends or pundits, who come along side the late-modern lover to assist them. Her argument is that, in trying to soothe the psyche of the individual, these false-helpers fail to recognise that love is set in a social context, and it is that context that most determines how it proceeds and will end.

If you are of academic persuasion, this book will be a delight.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars wanted the challenge of previous books 20 Jun 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Illouz skilfully sets up the pieces, particularly the historical background and the sociological aspect of choosing a suitable partner as well as the potentially damaging impact of rational thinking on this process, yet unfortunately her exploration of our present time relies on gender stereotyping (men categorised as over rational, non-emotional and distant, women as emotional, insecure and needing reassurance while not fully knowing what they want). As a consequence she fails to fully explore the complexity of love and relationships. Illouz accurately identifies that previously women often had an advantage in mate selection culturally checking out the qualities of a potential suitor, this being vital as once selected the man had power over her property. She then identifies that now men have the advantage during the dating process as biological necessity forces a woman to 'blink first' if she is to successfully have a family, yet Illouz fails to explore why men prefer to remain in dating mode rather than commit to partner selection. Could it possibly be that with most marriages ending in divorce (mostly initiated by women), with child custody in most cases automatically going to the woman and the likelihood of the man having to move out of the family home many men see all to lose and chose to remain non-comital. Whether men are then happy being permanently left in the dating game as Illouz assumes is also debatable, but Illouz admits her focus is more on women than men, and this is a pity, as Illouz as illustrated in her previous books possesses an excellent mind, and men are deserving of her attention, the current state of affairs being culturally unsatisfactory for people of either gender.
There is much in this book that is good and I shall continue to check out her writing, yet feel when I read the over generous sleeve notes she is being praised too highly for this book, she is nether the less one of the most exciting sociological writers of recent times.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars how I wish my friends would all read this book
Eva Illouz really does think outside the box. She doesn't have an axe to grind or think she knows the answers but she asks a lot of questions that really need asking. Read more
Published 13 months ago by mal
5.0 out of 5 stars Wiser and wider
A complex and intense read!
One's outlook on the issues of Love will never be the same after "ingesting" this immensely well researched subject.
Published 13 months ago by Esra ONAT
3.0 out of 5 stars Superb cover
Upon seeing the jacket, I instantly wanted to read this book.
Unfortunately, the heavy sociological approach makes it less interesting than the cover promises. Read more
Published 18 months ago by L. Goldsmith
1.0 out of 5 stars Really Difficult to Get Into
I ordered this book quite excited at the blurb, but I was really disappointed when I received it. It is written by someone clearly far more intelligent than I and I found it hard... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Tazz Rainbow
5.0 out of 5 stars Now you say the juice is sour and it used to be so sweet
"Why Love Hurts" looks specifically at why love hurts today, or as the author annoyingly insists on describing it, "in modernity" by which she means after World War One. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Four Violets
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of interesting anecdotes, but not much good analysis
"Why Love Hurts" by Eva Illouz doesn't really live up to its title, but it's interesting nonetheless as a collection of stuff that people say about love. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Alan Michael Forrester
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