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Bachelor Thesis

Romantic Love, Pop Music and Globalization: The Quest for Understanding of Romantic Love in Pop Music in a Globalized World

Love is an endless subject that appears and reappears in various forms throughout the course of human history. Humanity has searched for love for thousands of years. This search has manifested in various forms in people’s search for God, power, wealth, relationships,
romance, and sex. But ultimately, they are searching for love. Love bestows meaning to one’s seemingly absurd, chaotic and lonely existence as if one’s existential void is filled at the very touch of love.


Romantic love is one of the most cherished forms of love, permeating everyday life. It affects most people profoundly and constantly, whether they realize it or not. Sociologist Eva Illouz argues that romantic love and its associated emotions are the crucial factors that define modernity (Illouz, 2012, pp10-11). 


Numerous pop songs surround the theme of romantic love. 

Most people continuously show tremendous interest in romantic love regardless of where they come from; the search for romantic love is a global phenomenon in the 21st century. Notably, when I travel to Asia and Europe, I often hear American pop love songs being played almost everywhere (e.g., in shopping malls, nightclubs, and restaurants). This shows how widespread American pop music is, and to a larger extent, American pop culture.

While the study of globalization has become one of the most popular subjects in almost every discipline, it mainly concentrates on the macro-analysis of political, economic and cultural issues and factors. By contrast, micro-analysis of personal issues, such as romantic love is overlooked. 


Thus, my research aims to bring the focus from an impersonal macro-analysis on various global issues to a personal micro-analysis of romantic love and the pop songs of love in the global context.  In particular, it examines the relationships, dynamics
and interactions among romantic love, popular music and globalization.

Juxtaposing these three interconnected themes into an integrated study in the context of 21st century, it aims to shed light on the following sets of questions:


1) How a particular romantic ideal is constructed under a specific social and historical context. In other words, how do different people envision romantic love across different times and places?


2)How perceptions, values and practices of romantic love evolve and change over time in the Western context. What is/are the driver/s or cause/s of changes in romantic love?


3) How is romantic love portrayed and represented in contemporary pop music? How is contemporary representing of romantic ideal compared to ideal in contrast to various portrayals of romantic ideals in the past?


4) How has this contemporary romantic ideal spread and become the dominant value in the young generation worldwide through the process of globalization of pop culture? What are the implications of this global phenomenon?



A related working paper has emerged out of this bachelor thesis. 


Theorizing Romantic Love and Hook-up Culture: Modernity, Capitalism and Pop Music


This paper seeks to critically examine the evolution of romantic love in relation the to development of modernity, capitalism and globalization. Focusing on hook-up culture, I argue that it is a reflection of the current flexible and precarious economic conditions, which in term reflect in pop music. Moreover, hook-up culture rests on the conditions set by modernity in which religions and moral constraints of sex by are unleashed in the modernizing process. Tracing back to Plato and the Bible this paper first examines the evolution of theories of romantic love in the West by concentrating on the tensions and contradictions of competing perspectives. It then puts these theories into the historical contexts of the calling era, the dating era and the hook-up era.

It especially concentrates the contemporary phenomenon of hook-up culture in North America.


Moreover, it examines how romantic practices are closely related to the develop of capitalism, namely production and labor. In particular, it shows the relationship between precarization of work and precarization of romantic relationships. Finally, it looks the ways in which these contemporary "human conditions are reflected in American pop music. In sum, this paper sheds light on the relationship between intimate life and capitalism which is often overlooked by mainstream literatures that primarily focuses the economic and political dimension.


Keywords: Hook-up Culture; Pop Music; Modernity; Capitalism; Globalization

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