Public Event at the ZiF - Lecture

Emotions and the Sociology of Choice

Date: 1 February 2018, 18:00
Location: ZiF Plenarsaal
Eva Illouz (Jerusalem, ISR)

During modernity romantic experience is undergoing a fundamental transformation. In my talk I make the somewhat counter-intuitive claim that one of the most fruitful ways to understand the transformation of love in modernity is through the category of choice. I suggest to view choice as the defining cultural hallmark of modernity because in the economic and political arenas, it embodies the exercise not only of freedom, but also of two faculties that justify the exercise of freedom, namely rationality and autonomy.

I extend this insight to the emotional realm and study the various mechanisms through which in modernity choice of a mate have changed and have transformed the will and the emotions active in the will of partners who meet in a market situation. In this sense, choice is one of the most powerful cultural and institutional vectors helping us understand modern individualism. If choice is intrinsic to modern individuality, how and why people choose - or not - to enter a relationship is crucial to understanding love as an experience of modernity.

Eva Illouz is professor of sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Directrice d'études at the École des hautes études en science sociales (EHESS) in Paris. From 2012 to 2014 she was the first woman president of the Bezalel Academy of Art and design. Eva Illouz was born in Fez, Morocco, and studied Communications and Literature at the Hebrew University and at the University of Pennsylvania.

Her research topics include the sociology of culture, sociology of emotions, and the sociology of capitalism. Eva Illouz is the author of ten books which have been translated into 17 languages. 2009 she was awarded the 'Outstanding Researcher Award' of the Hebrew University.

Among her books are:
  • Why Love Hurts. A Sociological Explanation. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012
  • Saving the Modern Soul: Therapy, Emotions, and the Culture of Self-Help. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.
  • Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery: An Essay on Popular Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.
  • Consuming the Romantic Utopia: Love and the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

Please direct questions concerning the organisation to Marina Hoffmann at the Conference Office.


Tel: +49 521 106-2768
Fax: +49 521 106-152768
E-Mail: marina.hoffmann@uni-bielefeld.de