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Do I Qualify for a Love Relationship?: Social Norms and Long-Distance Relationships in Post-Soviet Latvia
Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Sociology. Södertörn University, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Baltic & East European Graduate School (BEEGS). Uppsala University.
2015 (English)In: Sexuality & Culture, ISSN 1095-5143, E-ISSN 1936-4822, Vol. 19, no 2, 388-406 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Not all couples live together; some partners live far from each other, causing potential challenges to relationship maintenance in terms of keeping the relationship ongoing. In the present study, complications in relationship maintenance experienced by heterosexual long-distance partners in post-Soviet Latvia are analysed. The complications are examined in the light of social norms as conceptualized by Parsons and Shils (Toward a general theory of action. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1962) in their notion of dominant value orientations. The article suggests that the norm conflicts experienced by the long-distance partners are illustrative of the value transitions in societies undergoing rapid social change, such as in Latvia. The analysis is based on 19 in-depth interviews with individuals with long-distance relationship (LDR) experience. The social norms complicating or hindering LDR maintenance were found to be generation-specific and gender-specific. The interviewees born and raised in Soviet Latvia referred to collective-oriented norms while the interviewees born in the independent neo-liberal Latvia referred to their own interests that complicated their LDR maintenance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 19, no 2, 388-406 p.
Keyword [en]
Latvia, Long-distance relationships, Post-Soviet, Relationship maintenance, Social norms
National Category
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-26336DOI: 10.1007/s12119-014-9263-0ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84939984791OAI: diva2:786784
Available from: 2015-02-06 Created: 2015-02-06 Last updated: 2015-09-17Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. I Imagine You Here Now: Relationship Maintenance Strategies in Long-Distance Intimate Relationships
Open this publication in new window or tab >>I Imagine You Here Now: Relationship Maintenance Strategies in Long-Distance Intimate Relationships
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

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 ; 108Södertörn doctoral dissertations, ISSN 1652-7399 ; 104
intimacy, sociology of intimate lives, time, temporality, imagination, living apart together, symbolic interactionism, Latvia
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
Research subject
Politics, Economy and the Organization of Society; Baltic and East European studies
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-26539 (URN)978-91-554-9161-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-03-27, MB503, Södertörns högskola, Alfred Nobels allé 7, 13:00 (English)
Available from: 2015-03-06 Created: 2015-03-06 Last updated: 2015-03-06Bibliographically approved

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