chapter  20
6 Pages

The Power Mechanisms of Jealousy


Jealousy1 is the fi rst argument generally made against any sort of non-monogamy: ‘I couldn’t do that, because I’d get too jealous’ is the response people tend to give on being confronted by people in openly non-monogamous relationships in both daily life and in newspaper journalism on the subject. For example, Coren’s (2005) article on polyamory concludes that ‘there is no getting round the ultimate problem of jealousy’ (see also DeDonato, 2008; Jackson, 2006; Leath, 2006; and Lewis, 2005). Polyamory literature, on the other hand, views jealousy as manageable (e.g. Easton and Liszt, 1997; Anapol, 1997; Benson, 2008). This is in line with recent understandings of jealousy in the social sciences as a constructed cultural phenomenon rather than as a universal biological and inevitable response (Stenner and Stainton-Rogers, 1998; Sharpsteen, 1993). In this chapter, I will be examining jealousy through the lens of a Foucauldian understanding of power (Foucault, 1977). In other words, jealousy is viewed as a conceptual relationship that occurs among people: one which enables certain mechanisms of power.