Mobilizing intimate relationship

March 31, 2019


Please send an abstract of max. 400 words / 3,000 characters until March 31, 2019 by emailing the contact persons of the session (see below). You will be informed of the acceptance by the end of April 2019.

Changes in social life, digital communication technologies or global economic and political developments are placing new demands on mobility and flexibility. This does not only apply to individuals, collective actors and social groups, but mobilizes ideas, norms and ideas too (see Mimi Sheller and John Urry's "New Mobilities Paradigm"). Intimate relationships, which are characterized by a concept or ideal of romantic love, especially in modern, Western societies, represent a fascinating research field in this respect. In the public discourse, love is usually regarded as a universal and extra-societal fact: as a kind of uncontrollable destiny, for which no one is responsible, which one can´t escape and, moreover, should not do. Within this narrative, romantic love gains tremendous social and political significance. However, as Niklas Luhmann has already demonstrated in his famous study on the sociocultural context of the emergence of the romantic ideal in the 18th century, the narrative itself is variable.

The session explores interdependencies of intimate, romantic relationships with social contexts and processes of cultural change. There are two foci which are empirically interrelated: On the one hand, intimate relationship moves away from an apparent (normative and conceptual) "tradition". On the other hand, a rather “traditional” romantic ideal is re-negotiated within changing social contexts. This is particularly the case, for example, if norms and lifestyles are perceived as changing, transcultural contacts suddenly occur or new communicative options are explored.

Contributions might address, but are not limited, to the following questions:

• What are impacts of transculturality on contemporary intimate relationships (e.g. female vs. male culture, ethnic cultures or culturally diverse perceptions of intimate relationships)?

• Which global developments (e.g. technologies, spatial mobility, politicies) change the concept of love and intimate relationships (for whom)?

• What are, in turn, consequences of social change, transcultural contacts or changed policies on the romantic narration?

• Which interaction exists between the romantic narration, socio-cultural developments and (new) performative practices of intimate relationships?


Kornelia Hahn – University of Salzburg, Department of Sociology – kornelia.hahn[at]

Mona Röhm – University of Salzburg, Department of Sociology – mona.roehm[at]