1st Edition

Love and Society Special Social Forms and the Master Emotion

By Swen Seebach Copyright 2017
    226 Pages
    by Routledge

    226 Pages
    by Routledge

    Why does love matter?

    Love and Society discusses the meaning and importance of love for contemporary society. Love is not only an emotion that occurs in our intimate relationships; it is a special emotion that allows us to relate to each other in a lasting fashion, to create out of our individual pasts a shared past, which enables us to project a shared future.

    Bringing together the idea of Simmel’s second order forms with theories of love, this insightful volume shows that the answer to why love is so central to society can be found in the social transformation of the last two centuries. It also explains how we can build our strongest social bonds on the fragility of an emotions thanks to the creation of "special moments" (love rituals) and "intimate stories" (love myths) that are central to the weaving of lasting social bonds. Going to the cinema, reading a book together or sharing songs are forms of weaving bonds of love and part of the cycle of love. But love is not only shared between two people; the desire and the search for love is something we share with almost all members of society.

    With rich empirical data, an analysis of love’s transformation in modernity, and a critical engagement with classical and contemporary theorists, this book provides a lively discussion on the meaning and importance of love for today’s society. It will be of interest to undergraduate and postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers who are interested in fields such as Sociology of Emotions, Sociological Theory and Sociology of Morality.

    Acknowledgement *

    Introduction *

    I. 1655 *

    II. 1894 *

    III. 2013 *

    Part I – AN IDEA OF LOVE *

    1. On Love - Between a Social Bond and an Emotion *

    1.1 Framing love? *

    1.2. The Whys and Why-nots of critical theory and feminist analysis in order to define and work with love *

    1.3 Love in our words *

    1.4. The Triangular Theory of Love *

    1.5. Niklas Luhmann on Love and Intimacy *

    1.6. Would Luhmann Consider Love as an Emotion? *

    1.7. Beck/Beck-Gernsheim *

    1.8. Pulling different strings together – Eva Illouz *

    1.9. A Brief Review – A First Balance *

    2. Love as a Second Order Form *

    2.1. Introduction *

    2.2. Love as an Emotion and as a Social Bond *

    2.3. On Second Order Forms. What is a second order form? *

    2.4. Could Love be a Form of the Second Order? *

    2.5. From Love as an Emotion to Love as a Second Order Form *

    2.6. The Conditions for Love as a Second Order Form. On the Changing Nature of Society and its Forms and Apriorities *

    2.7. A Brief Review – a Second Balance *

    Part II – A MYTH OF LOVE *

    3. Why and how could love become the predominant form of the second order? *

    3.1. Introduction *

    What is Modernity? *

    3.2. From the crisis before to the crisis after First Modernity – Why could love become a second order form? *

    The Third Apriority – Social Space and Social Place in First Modern Society *

    The First Apriority – Building Wholes Out of Fragments *

    The Second Apriority – Limits of the Social *

    3.3. The Changes of the Three Apriorities during the Next Modernity Crisis. *

    The First Apriority – The Fragments become Wholes *

    The Second Apriority – The Return of the Oppressed – Body, Emotions, Desire *

    The Third Apriority – A New Place in the Self, a new Place in Love *


    Swen Seebach is a Juan de la Cierva postdoctoral researcher at UAB (Barcelona Autonomous University), Spain.

    In often moving ways, this scholarly text explains how love has come to be at the heart of late modern morality. The book beautifully navigates from explaining the sacred to the mundane ideas, myths, rituals and experiences of love and how they have changed. This is a theoretically rich and empirically exciting journey that seeks to illustrate love as a social bond as well as an emotion that has become predominant in linking individuals to the social sphere in durable ways. It is a compelling account of the ways in which love has become the fundamental organising principle of our social world with implications for how intimates are morally distinguished from non-intimates and how consumption is entangled with our selves and desires.

    Dr Mary Holmes, University of Edinburgh, UK

    Seebach has produced a grand systematic treatise on the historical transformations of love as code, ritual, and experience. Skillfully integrating Simmel and Luhmann with micro-sociology of emotions, he shows how love survives within the frames of contemporary myths and "rituals of the second order" even in the flux of late modernity.

    Randall Collins, author of Interaction Ritual Chains.


    Seebach's Love and Society covers a lot of ground: not only does it superbly review the now crowded space of theories of love, but it also analyzes the rituals, stories and forms of exchange at work at love, and asks what makes love a second order social form, that is a social form made to last. The idea of love as a second order social form is original and persuasively argued throughout. This is an important addition to the philosophical and sociological literature on love.

    Eva Illouz, EHESS and Hebrew University of Jerusalem

    ...this book covers vast intellectual ground and contains a lot of thorough and interesting
    analysis of empirical instances of love rituals and lay persons’ stories concerning their experiences