Posted: September 18th, 2017
We live in a culture of capitalism. How do capitalist ways of thinking and doing influence modern attitudes and practices of intimacy in romantic relationships?
Answer the question by engaging with (a) the relevant lecture, (b) the set weekly readings and (c) ONE additional scholarly article or book chapter you have found.
Minimum references: 3 (lecture, set reading/s, additional material such as a sociology journal article or book chapter).
Word count (including references): 600
German psychoanalyst and critical theorist Erich Fromm has written an influential text on love in modern, western society. His analysis is Marxist-inspired and goes to the heart of a crucial social reality: love, like all other ‘activities’ – to use Fromm’s conception – is irretrievably linked to the dynamics of supply and demand that obtain in market societies. The beginning of this lecture explores this context of Fromm’s thoughts on love. Like every activity which we take seriously, to which we dedicate ourselves, love too, according to Fromm, needs to be learned and practiced. This goes against the grain of entrenched beliefs that love is something we ‘fall’ into, or possesses us, or is a matter of ‘love at first sight.’ We will elaborate Fromm’s ideas on love as art. Because from a Marxist perspective capitalism produces pathological forms of interaction and subjectivities, that is, forms that go against our very humanity, love does not remain untouched by the pathological tendencies of the system in which it unfolds. In fact, according to Fromm, our culture offers us modes of love that are in a symbiotic relationship with capitalist exchange relations; modes of love that are poor substitutes for the ‘real thing’. Traditional religions are subject to processes of detraditionalisation. They no longer suffice as counter-ideologies to the prevailing norms of the market and a highly individualised social realm.
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