Conjugal Love from a Sociological Perspective: Theorizing from Observed Practices.


  • Helene Belleau Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique
  • Chiara Piazzesi Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)
  • Annabelle Seery Université de Montréal



Love; marriage relationships; semantics; sociology; practices.


This paper presents a sociological reflection on contemporary conjugal love, both from an empirical and a theoretical point of view. Drawing on analyses of data regarding financial arrangements between partners forming a couple, as well as on the sociological literature concerning love relationships, we present a theorization of contemporary conjugal semantics. We define these semantics as consisting of eight “meaning rules” through which social actors respond to the challenges of intimate relationships. Our analysis shows us the gaps and the tensions between different logics of love, on the one hand, and logics of love and social realities, on the other. However, partners’ utterances feature an integration of elements stemming from opposed semantic frameworks; meaning rules fostering mythical idealisation are combined with rules regarding relationship work, therapeutic communication, and the entrepreneurial management of the relationship. This empirical analysis also allows us to tackle a double confusion in the contemporary sociological literature on love and couples.

Author Biographies

Chiara Piazzesi, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

Professeure Département de sociologie

Annabelle Seery, Université de Montréal

Doctorante Département de sociologie