They Call It Love is an examination of the work we call "love," who performs it, how it is organised, and how we might re-organise it. Through understanding love as emotional reproduction, Alva Gotby makes clear that our emotional lives are inherently political.
How do you know someone cares for you? Think about the small gestures of love - all the little things that have made you feel supported and cared for. Who was working to make you feel safe, loved, and supported? The work of caring for people is an essential but devalued aspect of capitalist societies.
In this groundbreaking book, Alva Gotby calls for a new understanding of "emotional reproduction"--the work of soothing children and providing company for the elderly, comforting partners, family members, and friends, and maintaining intimate forms of sociality. This work is commonly known as "love."
Emotional reproduction is not something we usually think about or notice. It's the everyday work that we do for our family members, friends, co-workers and others--comforting, cheering up those who are feeling sad or lonely, creating emotional warmth.
There is an assumption in our society that healthy adults can care for themselves and that only children and the mentally ill need emotional support. But emotional reproduction shows that we are all dependent on one another. Adults as well as children need emotional care. And not only those with a mental illness need support from others--all of us do.
By Alva Gotby. Hardcover. 208 pages. Published by Verso, 2023.