Resisting the commodification of intimate life? Paternal love, emotional bordering and narratives of ambivalent family consumerism from Scottish and Romanian fathers
Romantic love has been conceptualised as an emotional resource that promotes consumerism, by deeply affecting the creation of the modern self (Illouz, 2012). Simultaneously, both research and media discourses present the modern ‘good’ father’s role as one of enhanced intimacy (Dermott, 2008), and one in which fathers’ experiences of paternal love are routinely overlooked. I argue that paternal love as a different form of love than romantic love can resist commodification to a certain extent. Based on data from 47 qualitative interviews with Scottish and Romanian fathers, I argue that involved fathers have an ambivalent relationship to consumerism. Far from uniformly adopting it, data reveal that fathers resist it by focusing on the emotional value of gifts and developing their children’s warmth and confidence (încredere in sine).1 This happens in a social context where fathers shift emotionally between love and stoicism as they flexibly adopt either an intimate or provider role according to different contexts. Exploring paternal love is important in understanding how fathers, in relation to their children, not only participate but can also resist the commodification of their intimate lives, and can contest the general discourse of the commodification of love.
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