1. A proposal for Investigating & Collecting Love Stories: an ongoing inquiry
The motivation for this line of enquiry was firstly fueled when Alice visited Bhutan, and learned of the interesting ‘love rituals’ found there (the norm being to climb through the bedroom window of your beloved, until caught, when the couple would marry). The topic appeared again whilst she was studying for her MSc in Psychology. The academic study of the subject showed her one important thing: Virtually all previous research tended to be from a westernised viewpoint- even examinations other cultures were greatly influenced by almost innate perceptions of love. She conceded that as a result of these cultural and social influences, which have been interweaving for centuries it would be near impossible to conduct rigorous and objective cross-cultural examinations of love- as love, by design, by explanation, and by experience, is inherently subjective.
However, this doesn’t mean that love can’t be explored. With this in mind, we propose to document love stories from the people we meet and the stories we hear. In contrast to rigorous scientific research, subjectivity is welcomed here, in fact it is essential. We intend to use these insights to inform our own relationships, and perhaps the relationships of others. Failing that, everyone enjoys a good love story…
Lessons in Assumptions –Individualist/Collectivist Cultures
As discussed, subjective data relies on the personal thoughts and opinions of individuals, from their unique perspective. However, as a reporter on love, it is extremely easy to project your own prejudices and opinions on the story and therefore change it’s very essence.
We were able to experience the foundations of this ‘contamination’ first hand whilst living out in Spain- and it was a stark reminder of how our own culture is so deeply ingrained it is almost without awareness or question. Before moving to Spain I imagined it to be a country fairly similar to the U.K, we’re both in the EU, how different could we be? Rural Andalucia revealed an alien world to which I began to understand only the surface once we had been living there over a year. Being a collectivist culture, the focus was on the community, be it your extended family, your village, your province. Astonishingly, It wasn’t about you. Your actions don’t just affect you, they affect the whole organism of the group to which you belong. By the same token, if a neighbour is injured- then part of you is too. By seeing the resulting actions with English eyes, I misinterpreted the very core motivations/intentions of those around me. For example, I saw a neighbour as a busy-body, when in actual fact she had embraced us as her family and was involving herself as such.
The literature documents this is as the difference between Individualistic and Collectivist cultures. For me it was a tangible and pertinent lesson to me in terms of any kind of social or scientific research- there is always context and there is always interpretation. But it is also relevant here in the way we report our stories.
For our collection of love stories, we will endeavour to be as aware as possible- aware of context, of our own interpretations and our own assumptions. However, as mentioned, love is subjective and stories about love are there for the reader to enjoy and take whatever they wish from it. That is the beauty of stories and the beauty of love. AM