How People Believe Love Is Real: Actors in Structure

Friday, 20 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Hangyeol KIM, Sogang University, Republic of Korea
Love, romantic relationship and dating are important themes in terms of an intimacy problem for youth. As youth generation are suffering from uncertainty of modern society, they depend on intimate relationship. While romantic love remains one of the hope for people who want to obtain stability in life, social scientists have argued that how fantasy of love is constructed by social structure, such as patriarchy, monogamy for nuclear family in industrial society, gender structure(Jakson 1993). While, social science has succeeded in analyzing why love is not personal emotion but a social construct, there is a problem remaining: Where is actor who do not just reproduce the structure but act in structure? Therefore, this research aims at an empirical explanation on how actors interpret situation and make meaning through interaction in romantic relationship.

This study was conducted using mixed-methods; 20 in-depth interviews, romance type examinations and 368 surveys with heterosexual college students in Seoul, Korea. From actor’s point of view love is not social construct but social reality, although social structure embedded in their actions. Regardless of gender, interviewees show how they distinguish whether their relationship is love or just dating. Also, this way of interpretation for relationship is supported by statistical findings on how authenticity and reflexivity related with romance. However, the influence of social structure is huge. Since love is a process of negotiation with partner, heterosexuals interpret and shape meaning of situation in dating under the pressure of gender structure. Furthermore, modern consumer culture and consuming market force make romantic dating scripts. Uncertainty of society is matter as well. Lovers maintain their relationship as intersubjective definition of situation under social structure which affects not only their own gender, sexuality, but also daily interaction - behavior, facial and verbal expression, interpretation of situation.