Dating and courtship in australia
It then charts how, through consumer capitalism, a particular conception of romantic love which had its genesis in affluent white middle-class America has become transnational, influencing the way Australian women, in particular, conceived of romance especially in the mid-twentieth century.
Of course it may be argued that the culture of romantic love in Australia has always been transnational because non-indigenous Australians began as ‘transplanted Britons’, and this British heritage has had deep and long-lasting influences in mainstream Australian culture.
The promotion of consumerism through advertising directly impacts emotional states and our sense of well-being because, as Peter Stearns has observed, people stake ‘a real portion of their personal identities and their quest for meaning – even their emotional satisfaction – on the search for and acquisition of goods’.
And above all, the same limited script of romantic consumption was widely broadcast and reinforced by advertising, films, romance novels and magazines which commodified romance and romanticised commodities – especially what Eva Illouz has called ‘ego expressive’ commodities such as shampoo, perfume, deodorant and cosmetics.
It had a secular, consumerist understanding of love rather than a spiritual one.
Where expensive gifts had been looked on suspiciously in the nineteenth century, and personal gifts such as a lock of hair, a sketch portrait of the beloved, or hand-made cards were favoured instead, by the early twentieth century, gift-giving had become an expected part of the expression of romantic love. It was focused on consumption rather than production (that is, marriage and the production of family).
Firstly, in the nineteenth century Americans understood romantic love as an intensely private, spiritual experience – exalted to the point where romantic love practically became a new religion in itself.
Marriage or long-term partnership was no longer the ultimate fulfilment of love; rather, happiness and the experience of ‘romance’ became goals in themselves.