Discourses of love and money : exploring constructions of gender and romantic relationships.
This dissertation considers gender relations and intimacy in romantic relationships within the context of economic globalization and consumer culture. The aim was to explore how the economic structure of South African society and the culture of consumption that has accompanied this structure influence the way men and women view themselves and each other, and the impact this has on the relationships they form. Social Constructionism was used as a theoretical framework and specific attention was paid to the discourses evident in the speech of participants and the effects these discourses may have had on the formation of intimate bonds. Data was collected from young middle class women aged 18-25 using focus groups and individual, semi-structured interviews and was analysed using discourse analysis to explore the ways in which ideas of identity, self-worth, status and value shape these relationships. The following discourses were identified from the data: Men and women are different, Romantic relationships as a means to social inclusion/self-esteem, Love as a risk, Love as hard work and Physical attractiveness as necessary for romantic relationships.