Cover page

Title page

Editorial Note

Love as Passion was published in the early 1980s (German edition, Frankfurt, 1982; English edition, Cambridge, 1986). Eight years previously Luhmann had presented a general theory of communication media which was to enable him to conceptualize love, too, as one of these media and to compare it with other media such as truth, money and power.* The book on love makes use of the sociological tools of this theory, including most prominently the distinction found in attribution theory between experience and action, albeit without setting itself the task of explicating the media theory of love as such. Instead it pursues a programme, grounded in the sociology of knowledge, of rendering comprehensible the history of ideas of the topic of love. Luhmann's last treatment of the theme, in the chapter on communication in Die Gesellschaft der Gesellschaft (The Society of Society; Frankfurt, 1997), is similarly indirect in nature. Like the 1974 essay, it, too, is oriented principally towards media comparisons.

Not so with the text before us here, which originated in 1969. Retrospective forays into the history of the idea of love and sidelong glances at parallel phenomena in other media domains play a far less prominent role. Instead the reader is presented with a sociology of modern love relationships that addresses its topic directly.*

Accordingly, the author sets aside the scholarly apparatus of the historian in order to be guided by current research literature. What has emerged from this is a highly readable study. Unlike the unwieldy book on love, which makes the reader work quite hard, one can easily imagine this text in the hands of lay sociologists and of systems theoretical novices.

The reason for this is that the essay emerged from the requirements of academic teaching. Written as a basic text for one of the first seminars Luhmann offered at Bielefeld University, it remained unprinted at the time. Only a few passages were transferred from it to the 1982 book. After that, the manuscript disappeared in Luhmann's office. When it re-emerged from one of the boxes that have contained the sociologist's archive material since his death, it seemed appropriate to prepare the text for publication as quickly as possible, so that it could be brought out in time for the tenth anniversary of the author's death in November 2008. Veronika Luhmann-Schröder and Andreas Gelhard were kind enough to lend their cooperation without further ado.

André Kieserling

Bielefeld, June 2008