Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Emotional Risk-taking and Poly Edgework: Edging Between Relationship Sustainability and Self-Actualization
by Nelson, Debra L., M.A., Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, 2016, 62; 10159234
Abstract (Summary)

The present study explores the emotion culture of polyamorists from 11 qualitative interviews. Drawing on the theories of Arlie Russell Hochschild (1979), I utilize the concept of emotion work to depict the ways individuals adhere to, and break from, monogamous relationship norms. Polyamory is a diverse practice that entails the conscious maintenance of multiple romantic and sexual relationships, under the terms of honesty and mutual respect. I utilize the concept of edgework, originally conceived by Stephen Lyng (1990), to illuminate the voluntary risk-taking behaviors of polyamorists as they enact counter-hegemonic relationship practices. Findings reveal the way polyamorists use emotional edgework (from Lois 2001), the intentional stretching of emotional boundaries, as they transition from mainstream emotion culture towards a polyamorous one. Motivations for emotional edgework are varied among the sample, and reveal two chief reasons individuals engage in this kind of emotion work: 1) to have or retain a specific partner, and 2) to reach goals of growth and self-actualization. Although the practice of polyamory challenges the dominant relationship culture, the narratives continue to reflect the lingering influence of a neoliberal capitalist economic structure.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Spurgas, Alyson, Hedley, Mark
Commitee: Maatita, Florence
School: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
Department: Sociology & Criminal Justice Studies
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: MAI 56/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Social psychology, GLBT Studies, Gender studies
Keywords: Capitalism, Edgework, Gender, Non-monogamy, Polyamory, Sociology of emotions
Publication Number: 10159234
ISBN: 978-1-369-14225-9
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