Love in the Space-time of Inequality
Updated: Apr 27
This blog post is a summary of a recently published article in the academic journal The Sociological Review. The piece of writing draws on my Unequal Lives project in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea - it examines how growing inequalities in the borough are shaping the very core forms of our attachment to ourselves, to our local places, and to other people.
Love: More than a feeling?
Love, like all feelings, is not natural or straightforward. When we evoke the idea of love, in the West at least, it tends to be through a particular frame: of a romanticised, often hetereonormative, monogamous and universalist.
In the article, I instead think through love as a way of describing and studying our forms of attachment and detachment - to ourselves, to others, to events, to places, and so on. I argue that these connections - or what I refer to as geographical relations - do not take place in a vacuum, but are rather shaped by all kinds of processes. What does it mean, therefore, to love in the context of growing and proximate inequalities?
Loving in and across inequality
In the article, I use the love story of a resident of the borough to explore how inequalities seep into all aspects of people's core connections to their worlds. Using a participant's - Stephanie's - love story as the narrative upon which to consider inequality, I identify how different forms of economic and social difference - based on ethnicity, class, location, employment, accent, values - all mediate how love stories unfold.
I conclude that love therefore exists in tension: on the one hand, as a powerful foil to growing inequalities that allows people to form attachments across difference; but on the other, love can reinscribe inequalities as people detach further from places and communities that economically divergent.
The article is available to read in full here