science | March 31, 2015

First Look: Modern Romance, a New Book by Eric Klinenberg and Aziz Ansari

Sociologist and speaker Eric Klinenberg is releasing a new book this June. Modern Romance: An Investigation is a collaboration with comedian Aziz Ansari that explores the pleasures and perils of modern love: from texting to Tinder to the delicate use of the pizza emoji (check out the video above for a short clip of Ansari's stand-up about the art of texting). Ansari and Klinenberg have done a massive amount of research and analysis for this book, combining social science and humour in a totally new way.

In an interview with TIME Magazine, Ansari said: "[The] book is really unique. I can’t think of any book I would really compare it to. [...] The whole idea of finding a soul mate only became a thing in the past 100 years. So the whole redefinition of what marriage is—nobody’s really written this comprehensive book about this kind of thing. I think it’s really funny and very interesting."

More about the book:

Modern Romance: An Investigation

At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?” 

But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before—an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.

Eric Klinenberg is also the author of Heat Wave and Going Solo. He speaks on various aspects of modern life: from romance to the rise of single living in America to climate-proofing cities. To book Eric Klinenberg as a speaker for your next event, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.