Single Life and Happiness
Aalborg University, Denmark
For decades, we have witnessed big changes in family structures, from the experiments developing out of the cultural change in the sixties to a highly differentiated pattern of family types. One of the more profound changes is that growing individualization has resulted in a huge number of people living alone, either deliberately choosing to live alone or, for instance, becoming alone after a spoiled marriage. Even though we have witnessed this development for decades, we know surprisingly little about how we as humans handle these new circumstances. We know quite a lot about the effects from broken marriages on the children and about the difficulties that sole mothers are confronting. However, we know very little about how living alone affects happiness, or more generally, how it affects peoples’ subjective well-being (SWB)? In this paper, I will analyze SWB among different types of families and life trajectories. The study will focus on Denmark 1990-2017, based on the European Values Study data (coupled with data from administrative registers to get a more detailed picture of trajectories). The paper begins by briefly putting Denmark into a comparative context as regards happiness, the incidence of broken marriages and the relationship between family status and happiness. I will argue that Denmark is a well-chosen case for investigating SWB in families of late modernity. Besides the main question, I will investigate several other causal mechanisms connected to the main question, e.g. if effect from living alone on SWB is moderated by sex and age.
Overseas Pre-wedding Photography, Consumerist, and Female Individualism
EHESS Paris (École des hautes études en sciences sociales), France
Since the 1990s, it has become common for middle-class couples in Taiwan to have pre-wedding photos taken in professional studios with staged scenes and costumes related to various cultures and ethnicities. In the last five years, overseas pre-wedding photography involving couples traveling to Paris has become a trend among Taiwanese couples. This paper explores how heterosexual couples, particularly women, embody intimacy in pre-wedding photographs taken in Paris, a destination often associated with female individualism and sexual fulfillment. In the times of global economic uncertainty and changing norms where the viability of marriage is called into question, this niche in wedding culture, with its dreamlike, romantic fantasies involving image-driven bodily and identity makeovers and consumerist experiences, sees couples undergo cultural and economic transformations and encourages women’s intensive emotional and communicative involvement. I focus on the cultural consumption of pre-wedding packages tailored by Paris-based, Mandarin-speaking experts that combine photography with tourist services, bridal fashion, floristry, and even car rental. These packages are branded with a “French touch” and are marketed as an emotional commodity. Through an analysis of images, social media discourses, and interviews, I examine these embodied practices in the context of female individualism in consumerist societies in which transnational movements of commodity, culture, and capital are gendered and classed. Furthermore, I demonstrate how gender and pre-wedding photography inform each other and show that in this pre-wedding consumerist culture, women look to specific destinations such as Paris for authenticity and intimacy in relation to their daily lives.
Intimate Matters: Entangled Spaces and Embodied Rhythm in Communal Housing
Uppsala university, Sweden
Communal housing, meaning people who are not necessarily related by family or marriage but share residence in a more or less intimately organized way, is an example of a potentially intimate arena in-between the private and the public. The dwellings have common spaces for social interaction as well as private areas, they serve somewhat similar emotional and practical needs as families, yet they are organized in ways that, at times, recall the structure of workplaces and organizations. This presentation draws on interviews and ethnographic data from eleven communal dwellings in urban Stockholm, Sweden, three cohousing units and eight small-scale communes. Although the sample comes across as a fairly distant and individualist set of relations, the study also conveys expressions of voluntary and involuntary closeness, tightly connected to the materialities of a shared home; its everyday beat and proximity of bodies. Although communal residents often do not become ‘best friends’ and although housing relations are often without promises of continuation, many residents account for a deep entwining, not necessarily with other housemates, but with the shared home as such. Through an investigation of the spatial-temporal structure of communal housing, the presentation explores how this way of living matters intimately to people and how the intimate matters of communal housing can become an important aspect of peoples’ social worlds and lived everyday relations.
Smart Technology and Education of the Emotions. The Family as the Community of Practice
University of Foggia, Italy
Regarding peer education practices and in conformity with some of the principles of positive psychology, the possibility of employing digital devices in “the education of the emotions” is the subject of a quantitative investigation of a sample of middle school students: of the total student population of 1,775, the study involved 1,070 students (just over 60% of the total student body), divided into 412 girls (38.5%) and 658 boys (61.5%).
Rejecting theses and theories based on the automatism of time spent online and the insurgence of pathological addictions in adolescents, an online questionnaire of 21 questions revealed forms of socialization and emotional skills of adolescents in order to study at length the intergenerational communicative relationships and to identify forms, themes, concepts, and meanings that can effectively contribute to the construction of society.