Friday, Jan 30, 2009, 2 PM

Eva Illouz

Professor of Sociology, Hebrew University Jerusalem, currently Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin

Who’s to Blame? The Transformation of the Moral Structure in Sexual Betrayal

A comparison between nineteenth-century and contemporary stories of betrayal shows that contemporary accounts lack moral clarity, and point instead to a significant transformation of the moral structure of blame in love relations. At face value, the reason for such lack of moral clarity seems obvious: modern intimate relationships are based on contractual freedom, and such freedom precludes the possibility of holding one morally responsible for bailing out. But this explanation does not satisfactorily explain the absence of moral accountability in love, because it does not explain why the structure of blame has entirely shifted: it is now on the person betrayed, and not on the person betraying. This paper tries to answer the question of why the structure of blame has so dramatically shifted in romantic relationships.

Eva Illouz is a Professor of Anthropolgy and Sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She received her Ph.D in 1991 from the University of Pennsylvania. At present she is fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. Among her publications is Consuming the Romantic Utopia: Love and Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (1997); Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism (2007); Saving the Modern Soul: Therapy, Emotions, and the Culture of Self-Help (2008).

The event will be held in English