Love & social inequality

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Love in the space–time of inequality: Attachment and detachment across unequal lives

Peer-reviewed research by: Dr Samuel Strong

This article highlights how understandings related to inequality are often understood through charts and graphs, and how as a result, solutions also often come in the form of more charts and graphs. And while that may make sense sometimes, it’s not enough. Here, the author takes a different approach, and asks: “What if we chart inequality not by numbers, but by feelings?” What’s love got to do with it? Strong considers this through the following questions: “what does inequality do to how, where and why we love? And how does love interact with, disrupt and reproduce processes of becoming (un)equal?” The article draws on Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s book Love in the Time of Cholera to challenge dominant understandings of romantic love, which are often framed through western, heteronormative-by-default lenses, for example. Here, love can be many things, at the same time, across time, and at different times, as love is relational. The research unfolds through the story of one research participant: Stephanie. Here is the abstract: 

This article examines the changing experience of love at a time of deepening inequalities. Drawing on the ‘love story’ of one resident of London’s Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – arguably the UK’s most unequal space – it builds a relational account of love to describe the forms of attachment and detachment that accompany everyday life in an increasingly divided place. This approach signals three wider contributions. First, by tracing love through life course and life world, this article conceptualises the sustained and far-reaching way inequalities are lived and felt in everyday life. Second, the foregrounding of love stories as methodology highlights the roles of agency and narrative in how we tell and write about inequalities. In drawing these points together, this article thirdly conceptualises inequality as processual, situated and contested – as an emergent process of ‘becoming unequal’ through which we can trace shifting relations between space, time and power.

Click here to read the full open-access article, published in 2023 in the journal The Sociological Review.

Full Reference //

Strong, S. (2023). Love in the space–time of inequality: Attachment and detachment across unequal lives. The Sociological Review, 0(0).

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

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