Eva Illouz

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Illouz, 2008

Eva Illouz (Hebrew: אווה אילוז‎) (born April 30, 1961 in Fes, Morocco) is a professor of sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In 2008 she was a member of the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin. In October 2012 she was appointed as first female President of Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and resigned in December 2014. In 2016, Illouz was a professor at Paris's École des hautes études en sciences sociales.


Eva Illouz was born in Fes, Morocco, and moved to France at the age of ten.[1] She received a BA in sociology, communication and literature in Paris, an MA in literature at Paris X, an MA in communication from the Hebrew University.[2]

From 1986 until 1991 she studied communications and cultural studies at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where she received her PhD. She was mentored by Larry Gross, now the head of the Annenberg School of Communications at USC.[1] From 1993‐1994 she was a visiting professor at Northwestern University [3] after winning a Guastella Fellowship by the Israeli Ministry of Education (1992-1995).[citation needed]

Since 2000, Illouz has been affiliated with Hebrew University, first as Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences, 2004 as a Professor. From 2004-2005 she was a visiting professor at Princeton University, and in May 2005 at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris. In 2006 she joined Hebrew University´s Center for the Study of Rationality as full professor, then headed by Edna Ullman-Margalit.[4] In 2008 she was a fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg. [2] In October 2012, she was appointed as the first female president of Bezalel Academy of Art and Design[5] She prepared a recovery plan laying off " a few dozen lecturers", which the Israeli labor court overruled and on the other hand the board of the Academy, disliked her "leftist public statements", so she resigned in December 2014.[6]

In 2016, Illouz was a professor at Paris's École des hautes études en sciences sociales.[7]


Her book Consuming the Romantic Utopia won Honorable Mention for the Best Book Award at the American Sociological Association, 2000 (emotions section).[8] Her book Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery won the Best Book Award, American Sociological Association, 2005 Culture Section.[9] Illouz delivered the 2004 Adorno lectures at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt.[10] In 2009, the German newspaper Die Zeit chose her as one of the 12 thinkers most likely to "change the thought of tomorrow."[11] In 2013, she received the Annaliese Meier International Award for Excellence in Research from the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation.[12] Her book Why Love Hurts won the best book award of the Alpine Philosophy Society in France. [13] It is also the recipient of the 2014 Sociology of Emotions Outstanding Recent Contribution Award. [14] In 2018, Illouz received the E.M.E.T award [2] , the highest scientific distinction in Israel. In July 2018, she was also made Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur [3] in France.

Illouz is the author of 80 articles and book chapters and eight books that have been translated into 15 languages. [3]


Illouz research from her dissertation onward has focused on a number of themes at the junction of the study of emotions, culture and communication. [15] [1]

Capitalism and emotional patterns[edit]

One dominant theme concerns the ways in which capitalism has transformed emotional patterns, in the realms of both consumption and production. [1][15]

Romance and commodities[edit]

Illouz's first book addresses the commodification of romance and the romanticization of commodities. Looking at a wide sample of movies and advertising images in women’s magazines of the 1930s, Advertising and cinematic culture presented commodities as the vector for emotional experiences and particularly the experience of romance. Commodities of many kinds were presented as enabling the experience of love and romance. The second process was that of the commodification of romance, the process by which the 19th-century practice of calling on a woman, that is going to her home, was replaced by dating: going out and consuming the increasingly powerful industries of leisure. Romantic encounters moved from the home to the sphere of consumer leisure with the result that the search for romantic love was made into a vector for the consumption of leisure goods produced by expanding industries of leisure. [16] [17] [18]

Cold Intimacies and Saving the Modern Soul[edit]

In Cold Intimacies and Saving the Modern Soul Illouz examines how emotions figure in the realm of economic production: Psychologists were hired by American corporations to help increase productivity and better manage the workforce and did this by bridging the emotional and the economic realms, intertwining emotions with the realm of economic action in the form of a radically new way of conceiving of the production process. So whether in the realm of production or that of consumption, emotions have been actively mobilized, solicited and shaped by economic forces, thus making modern people simultaneously emotional and economic actors. [15]

The role of popular clinical psychology in shaping modern identity[edit]

Illouz argues that psychology has been central to the constitution of modern identity and to modern emotional life: from the 1920s to the 1960s clinical psychologists became an extraordinarily dominant social group as they entered the army, the corporation, the school, the state, social services, the media, child rearing, sexuality, marriage, church pastoral care. In all of these realms, psychology established itself as the ultimate authority in matters of human distress by offering techniques to transform and overcome that distress. Psychologists of all persuasions have provided the main narrative of self-development for the 20th century. The psychological persuasion has transformed what was classified as a moral problem into a disease and may thus be understood as part and parcel of the broader phenomenon of the medicalization of social life. What is common to theme 1 and theme 2 is that both love and psychological health constitute utopias of happiness for the modern self, that both are mediated through consumption and that both constitute horizons to which the modern self aspires. In that sense, one overarching theme of her work can be called the utopia of happiness and its interaction with the utopia of consumption.[19][20]

The transformation of the architecture or ecology of choice[edit]

At the center of Why Love Hurts is the notion of choice. The book makes the somewhat counter-intuitive claim that one of the most fruitful ways to understand the transformation of love in modernity is through the category of choice. Illouz views choice as the defining cultural hallmark of modernity because in the economic and political arenas, choice embodies the two faculties that justify the exercise of freedom, namely rationality and autonomy. She extends this insight to the emotional realm and studies the various mechanisms through which in modernity choice of a mate have changed and have transformed the emotions active in the will of partners who meet in a market situation. In this sense, choice is one of the most powerful cultural and institutional vectors helping us understand modern individualism. Given that choice is intrinsic to modern individuality, how and why people choose – or not – to enter a relationship is crucial to understanding love as an emotion and a relationship. [21] [22] [23]

This approach differs from that of economists and psychologists for whom choice is a natural feature of the exercise of rationality, a fixed and invariant property of the mind, as the capacity to rate preferences, to act consistently based on these hierarchized preferences. Yet, choice in general and choice of a mate in particular is no less shaped by culture than are other features of action.This is a theme Illouz has developed especially since becoming a member of the Center for the Study for Rationality at the Hebrew University in 2006. [24]

The unequal distribution of emotional development and emotional happiness[edit]

One dimension of Illouz’s work has been to understand the intersection of social class and emotion in two ways. First, how does class shape emotional practices? Are there emotional forms which we can associate with social domination? And second: If emotions are strategic responses to situations — that is, if they help us cope with situations and to shape them — do middle and upper-middle classes have an advantage over the poor and the destitute in the emotional realm? How do they establish this advantage and what is its nature?[citation needed]

Published works[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Koby Ben Simhon, Interview with Eva Illouz, Haaretz, 20 June 2009 (Hebrew)
  2. ^ a b Short CV. The Jerusalem Press Club.
  3. ^ a b Short CV. Wellesley College.
  4. ^ Eva Illouz CV
  5. ^ Professor Eva Illouz elected the new president of Bezalel, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design website, 2012
  6. ^ Littman Shany.Eva Illouz, president of Bezalel, resigned. Haaretz. (Hebrew) November 26, 2014
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ List of Recipients, American Sociological Society site
  9. ^ Recipients of 2005 Section Awards, American Sociological Society site
  10. ^ Adorno lectures
  11. ^ Von Elisabeth von Thadden, Am Seelenmarkt: Was macht die moderne Ökonomie mit unseren Gefühlen?
  12. ^ Anneliese Maier Research Award 2013 - The Award Winners
  13. ^ Eva Illouz, Biographical Note. 13th Conference of the European Sociological Association.
  14. ^ Section on the sociology of emotions outstanding recent contribution award. American Sociological Association site.
  15. ^ a b c Kobi Meidan. interview in with illouz in the Hotzeh Israel (Crossing Israel). Israeli Educational Television.
  16. ^ Bryan S. Turner (1998). Book Review. Body & Society. Sage Publications. Vol 4(3) 115-120.
  17. ^ PE Wegner (1999). Book Review. Utopian Studies. Penn University Press. Vol. 10, No. 2. 264-268.
  18. ^ Scott Coltrane (July 1998). Book Review. American Journal of Sociology. Volume 104, Number 1.
  19. ^ 2007. Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism, Polity Press, London.
  20. ^ 2008, Saving the Modern Soul: Therapy, Emotions, and the Culture of Self-Help, the University of California Press.
  21. ^ Tracy McVeigh (12 February 2012). Love hurts more than ever before (blame the internet and capitalism). The Guardian.
  22. ^ Jacqui Gabb (2012). Book Review. London School of Economics Review of Books.
  23. ^ Sara Clavero (May 2015). Book Review. Springer. Feminist Review. Volume 110, Issue 1, pp e4–e5.
  24. ^ 2007. Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism, Polity Press, London.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]