I Imagine You Here Now: Relationship Maintenance Strategies in Long-Distance Intimate Relationships
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Today, individuals can relatively easily meet and communicate with each other over great distances due to increased mobility and advances in communication technology. This also allows intimate relationships to be maintained over large geographical distances. Despite these developments, long-distance relationships (LDRs), i.e. intimate relationships maintained over geographical distance, remain understudied. The present thesis aims to fill this knowledge gap and investigates how intimate partners who live so far away from each other that they cannot meet every day make their relationship ongoing beyond face-to-face interaction.
Theoretically, this study departs from a symbolic interactionist viewpoint that invites us to study phenomena from the actor’s perspective. Conceptually, the thesis builds on the recent development in sociology of intimate lives that sees intimacy as a relational quality that has to be worked on to be sustained, and that focuses on the practices that make a relationship a relationship. Empirically, the thesis is based upon 19 in-depth interviews with individuals from Latvia with long-distance relationship experience.
The thesis consists of four articles. Article I studies the context in which LDRs in Latvia are maintained, focusing on the normative constraints that complicate LDR maintenance. Article II analyses how intimacy is practiced over geographical distance. Article III examines how long-distance partners manage the experience of the time they are together and the time they are geographically apart. Article IV explores the aspect of idealization in LDRs. Overall, the thesis argues for the critical role of imagination in relationship maintenance. The relationship maintenance strategies identified within the articles are imagination-based mediated communication (creating sensual/embodied intimacy, emotional intimacy, daily intimacy and imagined individual intimacy); time-work strategies that enable long-distance partners to deal with the spatiotemporal borders of the time together and the time apart; and creating bi-directional idealization. The thesis is also one of the few works in the field of intimate lives in Eastern Europe and analyses the normative complications that long-distance partners face in their relationship maintenance in Latvia.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2015. , 78 p.
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 108
, Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, ISSN 1652-7399 ; 104
intimacy, sociology of intimate lives, time, temporality, imagination, living apart together, symbolic interactionism, Latvia
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject Sociology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-242949ISBN: 978-91-554-9161-1OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-242949DiVA: diva2:786467
2015-03-27, MB503, Södertörns högskola, Alfred Nobels allé 7, Huddinge, 13:00 (English)
Levin, Irene, Professor
Jacobsson, Kerstin, ProfessorFerlander, Sara, Senior LecturerNäsman, Elisabet, Professor
List of papers