Love is a very important part of our lives. We encounter it in both our social, and cultural sphere. Love is a favoured subject in media. The media constantly reminds us of love, and portrays how one should love and be loved. It makes one wonder what the influence of these media portrayals can be on individuals. The romantic-comedy film genre is especially notorious for its portrayal of an idealized version of love. This is a popular genre among women, and it is not inconceivable that some women may view this idealized portrayal of love as true. Therefore, the aim of this study is to research how women construct love, and how they relate this to popular romantic-comedy films. To answer this the following research question was formed: How do four generations of women talk about love? Qualitative methods were used to answer this question. Twelve in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted. The respondents were twelve Dutch women from four different generations. Thematic network analysis was used to analyse the interviews. The women of this study described love either as something that was an intense and passionate feeling or as it was described by the Bible. The respondents argued that their construction of love was not influenced by romantic-comedies. Although, the answers given by the women suggested that romantic-comedies could have influenced their definition of love when they were younger, and inexperienced in love. However, the women believed that their social network influenced their construction of love more than romantic-comedies. Specifically, the parents were considered to be the most important source of influence. Overall the accounts of the women were quite similar across generations. However, there were two salient factors that caused differences in the responses of the women. These two factors were religion and the quality of the relationship with the social network of the women. It seems that generational differences did not affect the accounts of the women. The similarities between the accounts of the women can possibly be explained because they share the same interpretive community, and therefore can have similar horizons of expectations. This study concludes that love is both a social and a cultural concept. People base their construction of love on their own social and cultural experiences. If one is inexperienced in love one can base their conception of love on examples found in both cultural products, and in their social network.

Additional Metadata
Keywords media, culture, society, Love, Women, Romantic-Comedies, Meaning-making, Generations
Thesis Advisor M.C.M. Sommier, J.M. Engelbert
Persistent URL
Series Media, Culture & Society
C.M.L. Noordam. (2017, October 9). What is love?. Media, Culture & Society. Retrieved from