Eva Illouz

Cold Intimacies - The Making of Emotional Capitalism

Frankfurt Adorno Lecture 2004
Eva Illouz
Foto: Eva Illouz
© Susanne Schleyer

Eva Illouz, born in 1961 in Morocco, is Professor at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Sold to

English world rights (Polity), Spanish world rights (Katz), Brazilian Portuguese rights (Jorge Zahar), Arabic world rights (Page Seven), France (Seuil), Italy (Feltrinelli), Korea (Dolbegae), Japan (Kong Shuppan), Poland (Oficyna Naukowa), Slovenia (Krtina), Turkey (Iletisim), Greece (Oposito), Israel (Hakkibutz Hamecheud)


This book dispels some conventionally received ideas: namely, that capitalism has created an a-emotional world dominated by bureaucratic rationality; that economic behaviour conflicts with intimate, authentic relationships; that the public and private spheres are irremediably opposed to each other; and that true love is opposed to calculation and to self- interest.

This book argues that the culture of capitalism has fostered an intensely emotional culture, in the workplace, in the family, and in our own relationship to ourselves. More: this book argues that economic relations have become deeply emotional, while close, intimate relationships have become increasingly defined by economic and political models of bargaining, exchange, and equity. This dual process by which emotional and economic relationships come to define and shape each other is called “emotional capitalism.” Emotional capitalism has been carried through one major social group: clinical psychologists. Throughout the twentieth century, psychology increasingly put emotions at the centerstage of the public arena, of our relationship to our own self, and to others.

Academia, movies, self-help literature, women’s magazines, talk shows, support groups, for-profit workshops, and the professional practice of therapy have become mobilized to make us, men and women, primarily concerned with and defined by our emotions. How did this happen? What are the social consequences of such widespread preoccupation with emotions? How does it change the way in which we express suffering? This book addresses these questions and offers a new interpretation of the reasons why the public sphere is saturated with the spectacle of private emotions and why so many people define their identity in terms of psychic suffering.


»The book is one of the most interesting to come out this year.« Süddeutsche Zeitung

»An intelligent, sensitive book and a good read into the bargain.« WDR

»Well written, conceptually rich, and a welcome addition to the critical literature on emotion. It stands in juxtaposition to the dominant psychological models of emotion that have been unreflectively and uncritically reproduced, especially in organizational behaviour texts.« British Journal of Sociology

»[The book] illuminates the contemporary expansion of therapeutic models of self and relationships into all aspects of life.« Meghan Falvey, Modern Painters

»Once again, Eva Illouz demonstrates that she is a true heir to the rich intellectual tradition of the Frankfurt School. Taking on the exploration of the important territory where public culture and private consciousness connect, Illouz brilliantly develops the concepts of emotional capital and emotional competence. This elegantly concise book will take its place alongside – and engage in provocative conversation with – the work of Bourdieu, Foucault, and Giddens.« Larry Gross, University of Southern California

»In a tour de force of intellectual and cultural history, Eva Illouz traces the entry of intimate emotions into what many thinkers have interpreted as the desiccating, rationalizing discourse and practice of capitalism. She opens our eyes to the large impact of therapeutic and feminist viewpoints on prevailing interpretations of economic life.« Viviana A. Zelizer, Princeton University

Other publications

Warum Liebe endet/The End of Love (2018)

Sold to:

English world rights (Oxford UP), Spanish world rights (Katz), Chinese complex rights (Linking), Russia (Directmedia), France (Seuil), Italy (Codice), Netherlands (Ten Have), Sweden (Daidalos), Korea (Dolbegae), Greece (Ekdoseis tou Eikostou Protou), Israel (Modan)

Die große Regression/The Great Regression (2017)

Sold to:

English world rights (Polity), Spanish world rights (Seix Barral), Catalan rights (Grup 62), Chinese simplex rights (Horizon), Brazilian Portuguese rights (Estação Liberdade), Korea (Sallim), Portugal (PRH – Objectiva), France (Premier Parallèle; Paperback Sublicense: Gallimard Folio), Italy (Feltrinelli), Netherlands (Atlas|Contact), Czech Republic (Rybka), Bulgaria (KX Critique & Humanism), Romania (ART), Turkey (Metis)

Die neue Liebesordnung/Hard-Core Romance (2013)

Sold to:

English world rights (Chicago UP), Spanish world rights (Katz), France (Seuil), Italy (Mimesis), Netherlands (De Bezige Bij), Poland (PWN); previously published in the respective language / territory; rights available again: Korea (Dolbegae)

Warum Liebe weh tut/Why Love Hurts (2011)

Sold to:

Spanish world rights (Katz), Chinese simplex rights (East China Normal UP), Chinese complex rights (Linking), Russia (Directmedia), Brazilian Portuguese rights (Zahar), Arabic world rights (Page Seven), France (Seuil), Italy (Il Mulino), Netherlands (De Bezige Bij), Sweden (Daidalos), Korea (Dolbegae), Japan (Fukumura Shuppan), Poland (Krytyka Polityczna), Romania (Art), Croatia (Planetopija), Serbia (Psihopolis Institut), Turkey (Zen), Greece (Ekdoseis tou Eikostou Protou), Israel (Keter)