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Illouz, 2008

Eva Illouz (Hebrew: אווה אילוז‎) (born April 30, 1961 in Fes, Morocco, is a Full Professor of Sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.



Eva Illouz was born in Fes, Morocco, and moved to France at the age of ten. [1] She received a B.A. in sociology, communication and literature in Paris an M.A. in literature in Paris X, an M.A. in communication from the Hebrew University, and received her PhD in communications and cultural studies at the Annenberg School for Communication of the University of Pennsylvania in 1991. Her mentor was Prof. Larry Gross, currently the head of the Annenberg School of Communications at USC. She has served as a visiting professor at Northwestern University, Princeton University, the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales) and as a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin). In 2006, Illouz joined the Center for the Study of Rationality, then headed by Prof. Edna Ullman-Margalit. [2] Her book Consuming the Romantic Utopia won the Honorable Mention for the Best Book Award at the American Sociological Association, 2000 (emotions section). [3] Her book Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery, won the Best Book Award, American Sociological Association, 2005 Culture Section. [4] In 2005 she delivered the Adorno lectures, at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt. [5] In 2009, she was chosen by the German leading newspaper Die Zeit as one of the 12 thinkers most likely to "change the thought of tomorrow." [6] Her work has been translated in 10 languages.

Her Research

The research developed by Illouz from her dissertation onwards focuses on a number of themes at the junction of the study of emotions, culture and communication: Five themes dominate her work:


the ways in which capitalism has transformed emotional patterns

One dominant theme concerns the ways in which capitalism has transformed emotional patterns, both in the realms of consumption and production.

Consuming the Romantic Utopia

This is the name of her first book, addresses a dual process: the commodification of romance and the romanticization of commodities. Looking at a wide sample of advertising images in women’s magazines of the 1930s’ and watching movies of that period, advertising and cinematic culture presented commodities as the vector for emotional experiences and particularly for the experience of romance. Commodities of many kinds –soaps, refrigerators, vacation packages, watches, diamonds, cereals, cosmetics, and many others—were presented as enabling the experience of love and romance. The second process was that of the commodification of romance, which is the process by which the 19th century practice of calling on a woman, that is going to her home, was replaced by dating, going out places and consuming together the increasingly powerful industries of leisure. Romantic encounters moved from the home to the sphere of consumer leisure with the result that the search for romantic love was made into a vector for the consumption of leisure goods produced by expanding industries of leisure.

Cold Intimacies and Saving the Modern Soul

In her book Cold Intimacies and Saving the Modern Soul she examined how emotions figure in the realm of economic production: indeed in the American corporation, from the 1920’s onward emotions became a conscious object of knowledge and construction and became closely connected to the language and techniques of economic efficiency. Psychologists were hired by American corporations to help increase productivity and better manage the workforce and these psychologists bridged between the emotional and the economic realms and actually intertwined emotions with the realm of economic action in the form of a radically new way of conceiving of the production process. So whether in the realm of production or that of consumption, emotions have been actively mobilized, solicited and shaped by economic forces, thus making modern people simultaneously emotional and economic actors.

the role of popular clinical psychology in shaping modern identity

llouz argue that Psychology is absolutely central to the constitution of modern identity and to modern emotional life: from the 1920s’ to the 1960s’ clinical psychologists became an extraordinarily dominant social group as they entered the army, the corporation, the school, the state, social services, the media, child rearing, sexuality, marriage, Church pastoral care, and all of in these realms, psychology established itself as the ultimate authority in matters of human distress, by offering techniques to transform and overcome that distress. Psychologists –of all persuasions—have provided the main narrative of self-development for the 20th century. The psychological persuasion has transformed what was classified as a moral problem into a disease and may thus be understood as part and parcel of the broader phenomenon of the medicalization of social life. What is common to theme 1 and theme 2 is the fact that both love and psychological health constitute utopias of happiness for the modern self, that both are mediated through consumption and that both constitute horizons to which the modern self aspire. In that sense, one large overarching theme of her work can be called utopia of happiness and their interactions with the utopia of consumption. [7] [8]

the transformation of the architecture or ecology of choice

This is a theme she has especially developed since becoming a member of the Center for the Study for Rationality at the Hebrew University in 2006. Illouz argue that Economists, psychologists and even sociologists tend to think of choice as a kind of fixed, invariant property of the mind, in which actors know what their preferences are and choose based on these preferences. Illouz argues that in modernity the whole ecology or architecture of choice –at least choice of a mate—has changed profoundly. “Ecology of choice” has to do with the ways in which people understand what they take to be their preferences, the relationship between emotion and rationality, and the very capacity to distinguish between and prioritize between the so-called emotional and rational preferences. [9]

the unequal distribution of emotional development and emotional happiness

One dimension of Illouz’s work has been to understand the intersection of social class and emotion in two ways: how does class shape emotional practices; Are there emotional forms which we can associate with social domination? And the second is: if emotions are strategic responses to situations, that is, if they help us cope with situations and to shape them, do middle and upper middle classes have an advantadge over the poor and the destitute in the emotional realm? How do they establish this advantadge and what is its nature? [10]

meta-theoretical theme is that of human development and social critique

Finally the fifth theme, which is a meta-theoretical theme is that of human development and social critique. Whatever one’s allegiance, the critique of culture is premised on two cardinal propositions: that culture must transcend the realm of ordinary practices; and that it ought to do this by instilling in us habits and outlooks conducive to the “good society” (whether it is defined by more equality and freedom, or by more religion and tradition). Illouz rejects such analysis of culture into the counting of the many ways in which it either emancipates or represses, delivers "trash" or "treasure," conforms to or does not conform to a model of human development or of the good polis. Instead, she tries to offer the notion of "immanent critique," which makes critique emerge from the self-understandings of actors. Cultural practices ought to be evaluated and criticized internally, according to the values they contain [11]

Books Published

1. 1997. Consuming the Romantic Utopia: Love and the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism. Berkeley: University of California Press. (371 pp.). (Trad. esp.: El consumo de la utopía romántica, Buenos Aires/Madrid, Katz editores S.A, 2009, ISBN 9788496859531)

2. 2002. The Culture of Capitalism (in Hebrew). Israel University Broadcast (110 pp.).

3. 2003. Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery: An Essay on Popular Culture. Columbia University Press (300 pp.)

4. 2007. Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism, Polity Press, London. (Trad. esp.: Intimidades congeladas, Buenos Aires/Madrid, Katz editores S.A, 2007, ISBN 9788496859173)

5. 2008, Saving the Modern Soul: Therapy, Emotions, and the Culture of Self-Help, the University of California Press.

External links


  1. ^ Koby Ben Simhon, Interview with Eva Illouz, Haaretz, June 20th 2009 (Hebrew)
  2. ^ Eva Illouz CV
  3. ^ List of Recipients], American Sociological Society site
  4. ^ Recipients of 2005 Section Awards, American Sociological Society site
  5. ^ Eva Illouz CV
  6. ^ Von Elisabeth von Thadden, Am Seelenmarkt: Was macht die moderne Ökonomie mit unseren Gefühlen?
  7. ^ 2007. Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism, Polity Press, London.
  8. ^ 2008, Saving the Modern Soul: Therapy, Emotions, and the Culture of Self-Help, the University of California Press.
  9. ^ 2007. Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism, Polity Press, London.
  10. ^ see Saving the Modern Soul
  11. ^ Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery


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