Stories of partnership love : Q methodological investigations
This thesis seeks to reveal, to understand, and to outline some of the reliable schematics (Thomas & Baas, 1992/3) or narrative positions which currently shape the psychological climate of partnership love in Britain. Q methodology, a factor-analytic approach designed to facilitate the systematic study of subjective experience (Stephenson, 1953), is first reinterpreted in order to demonstrate its consonance with the discursive turn or second cognitive revolution in British psychology (Harre & Gillett, 1994), along lines prescribed by Bohm & Hiley's (1993) `Ontological' interpretation of the quantum theory. It is then employed in a series of studies tailored to our initial aim. The secular religion of partnership love -a love which demands that we valorise and celebrate the passionate feelings that love can induce, and which stresses the importance of finding a significant `Other' on the basis of these feelings - is identified by these studies, and is put forward, as the currently dominant construction of partnership love in Britain. Other revealed factors are shown to position themselves in relation to the `orthodox' narrative of the secular religion. Such a narrative, it is argued, attempts to make companionship reconcilable with the often incommensurate demands of individualism. As a result, love in our culture is increasingly shaped by capitalist (rather than charitable) principles, a development which compromises the institution of companionship. Divorce rates rise and the `glue' of our individualistic culture comes unstuck. The secular religion, we conclude, is a love which is directed primarily at the self and which duly demands personal gain, satisfaction, and growth as a first priority. The problems and implications of this are discussed in relation to the data.