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By Kiechle H.

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Annette Lawson (1988) has conducted one of the few studies of affairs —or adultery—in recent years and this discussion has already been greatly indebted to her work. As part of her framework she talks about two contrasting myths, the Myth of Romantic Marriage and the Myth of Me. The former refers to the idea that marriage is based upon love, an intense mutual feeling that leads to the altar and that becomes the basis for a socially recognized relationship that lasts until the death of one of the partners.

Shakespearian lovers frequently seek to place their experience of falling in love in a long mythico-historical tradition and the use of the term "the eternal triangle" signifies something similar for the affairs that are the subject of this chapter. Gendered accounts point to the relatively unchanging but different natures of men and women and modern evolutionary psychologists have not been slow in seeking to provide some scientific support for these more popular beliefs. This section continues the move from the micro-politics of affairs, through an examination of their location within a wider framework of sexual politics, to examining some wider societal and historical themes.

Gossip is a communication genre with its own forms and rules binding the actors—at least one of whom (the subject/target) may have had no choice but to become a social actor in others' plays. These actors are judged in absentia—indeed, it is essential that the targets of gossip be absent from the conversation, so that their rebuttals cannot be part of the process of identity construction that gossip realizes and effectuates. Furthermore, they come to stand in as examples of what not to do for gossip participants.

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