For love. Reflections on love in a life, that seems to lack it.

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For love. Reflections on love in a life, that seems to lack it.

Trine Brinkmann, University College Copenhagen

Annie is a forty-year-old woman, whose life has unfolded in the socio-economic margins of Denmark. She was born in the Western part of Jutland, brought up in violence, moved out of her childhood home as soon as she could, and as far away as possible. When I met her a couple of years ago, she lived in Lolland, had four children, all placed, was unemployed and on social support, described a continuity of relationships with men, and only explicitly talked about love in relation to her pet rat, who, as she said, brought her love, by licking her tears. Thus, one could easily describe Annie’s life as one defined by a series of neglect. But has there been love too?

In studies of marginalized people in Western societies, historically often centering on urban poor, there is a tendency, either to lean into sociological reflections on weak, strong, or disposable ties, the latter perceived as simulating intimacy and offering (pragmatic) alternatives to kin relations, where love seems to have gone wrong – or to delve into the psychological consequences of what unfolded, where love should have been. Following such kinds of thinking, Annie has not experienced love, and to the extend she has, it has been distorted. This is how Annie would generally be perceived by those welfare professionals, who one way or the other engage her life, and this is also how I find myself representing her life in my own ethnographic work – always with a clear sense of letting something important slip. Thus, in this paper, I look for love in Annie’s life, first and foremost with an ambition not to dismiss the kinds of love, that seems to linger in her words, and in the choices she has made.
Original languageEnglish
Publication dateAug 2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023
EventMEGA-Seminar : Quests for a good life - Sandbjerg Gods, Sønderborg, Denmark
Duration: 21 Aug 202323 Aug 2023


LocationSandbjerg Gods


  • social work and social conditions
  • love
  • Anthropology
  • inequality


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