From love and family to Contingent Intimacies in Lithuania?

Victor de Munck
Professor at Institute of Asian and Transcultural Studies, Vilnius University.

Lithuanian demographers and sociologists have noted that “individualization,” “female emancipation,” and “desire for leisure time” (Stankuniene & Jasilioniene, 2008), are important reasons for the declining marriage and birth rates in Lithuania since independence. This paper provides preliminary supportive effort for these observations, particularly by using one of the few available systematic emic methods available to social researchers—the free-list.  Using free-listing and Q-sorting methods, our findings indicate that new forms of intimacy are related to economic and class issues, and together they signify an emergent “precariot” (Standing 2012; 2014). The research is still in its formative stages but the findings suggest the rise of non-traditional sort of contingent intimacies in Lithuania.  For this paper we will compare conceptions love and marriage for two distinct samples of Lithuanians: those who are polyamorous versus those who are monogamous. We will also control for married and unmarried members of both groups. We hypothesize that the polyamorous group will voice more terms related to Giddens’ notion of confluent love (i.e. sex and autonomy) while the monogamous group will reflect more terms emphasizing love as a relational, cooperative and team concept, while also acknowledging individual autonomy.

Key words: individualization, free-list, precariot, Q sorting, contingent intimacies, polyamory

This project has received funding from the Research Council of Lithuania, grant agreement no. S-MIP-21-47.