Introducing April’s theme: Love

by Sarah K Perry

Earlier this year we put out a call for blog posts addressing the theme of ‘love’ in its many guises. We expressed an interest in how love might inform or interact with our community of sociologists’ research on issues as diverse as – for example – family, religion, capitalism, urban planning, the erotic, the criminal justice system, immigration law, health… the list is endless and we were excited by that. We asked you how love as an idea in our media, tv, and wider culture(s) is complicated or better understood through our sociological research. We wanted to know how love (and self-love) interacts with the labour of your research, with your relationships to participants and places, your notions of accountability, and your emotional investment in your work. 

When first thinking about the theme of ‘love’, I immediately thought of bell hooks’ conception of love as a verb: that ‘when we are loving, we openly and honestly express care, affection, responsibility, respect, commitment, and trust.’ I wondered whether this definition of what it is to do love would interact with the writing we received, and how different contexts, politics, and research questions would shift and change love-as-an-idea from verb to noun to commodity to transaction to obligation and back again. I wondered how love-as-labour in research would be depicted.

That work is now in, and we’re excited to share it with you. It’s wide-ranging in subject matter and comes from early career researchers, established academics, and a postgraduate student, who we’re delighted to publish here. We hope it asks as many questions for you as it answers, and that you enjoy it. The first piece – to be published at the end of this week – sees Dr Emma Waight exploring material-oriented understandings of love, and the ‘business’ of child-rearing. Later in the month, Tuğba Sivri interrogates how love is depicted in the Wattpad “romance” novels of conservative women writers in Turkey. We’re excited to share a presentation of the ethnography of the ‘Love Pilgrimage’ of Mawlana Jalal-ud-din Rumi from Dr Çiçek İlengiz, and Dr Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman’s post exploring familial love and racial heirarchies in Black, Brazilian families. To round off the month, Dr Sophie Woodward and Dr Laura Fenton will share a co-authored post about love and reality TV, and Dr Julita Czernecka presents an exploration of methods for metaphorizing erotic love in heterosexual men and women. Meanwhile, Dr Terence Heng is ‘in residence’ on our Instagram, and we will be introducing his work on the blog this week.

We didn’t know when we said yes to this work that we would all soon be experiencing a global pandemic that would make the people we love, and the ways we do that loving – individually, in community, and perhaps even through legal governance – feel so urgent and present. Nonetheless, we’re pleased to share this work from our colleagues and we know that as we continue to ask questions, to learn, and to love one another amidst the covid-19 outbreak, the work we’ve all already been doing, as well as new scholarship that emerges, has valuable, interesting, and provocative things to say. We hope these blog posts may distract, intrigue and aid you during this time. As the content we have is shared this month, we’re still interested in your answers to our original questions and in your thoughts about ‘love’ in your own research. We hope you’ll have these conversations with us using our social media channels, where we’ll continue to share sociological interventions connected to ‘love’ in all its forms throughout the month.

Please do take a look at the themed calls for blog posts for the rest of this year if you are interested in writing for us.

Sarah K Perry is one of The Sociological Review’s Digital Engagement Fellows. She is a PhD Candidate at Manchester Metropolitan University and a published fiction writer. She tweets @_sarah_perry.

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