Dissertation Abstracts

Polyamory in media, social and identity perspective

Author: Ossmann, Stefan F., stefan.ossmann(at)univie.ac.at
Department: Department of Economic and Social History
University: University of Vienna, Austria
Supervisor: Prof. Franz X. Eder
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: polyamory , identity , LGBT , relationship
Areas of Research: Communication, Knowledge and Culture , Futures Research , Family Research


Questions: The practice of having multiple sexual and emotional relationships with informed and consensual partners emerged in academic discussion in the 1990s, with literature focussing on sexual diversity in society and history. Anchoring polyamory within the LGBT discourse leads to questions that have not been sufficiently discussed: Matters of self-perception as sexual minority group, social acceptance by family members and wider society, the demand for legal recognition and religious issues have rarely been asked within the community. Of further interest is the question of a possible gap between the inside perception and the outside media representation on these aspects.

Innovation: The multiplicity in sexual and relational fields is yet mainly discussed by an outside attribution, falling short on listening to inside problems of relevant persons. Only few studies so far aimed to examine polyamorous lives and its related issues in such detail, and the German speaking areas as well as eventual religious matters have completely been omitted. Furthermore no media analyses in this geographical region have so far been conducted. Finally, the findings shall deliver contribution if a discussion of expending the LGBT term by the “P” for poly is justifiable.

Methods: Applying a hypothesis-generating approach, research questions on polyamorous identity, acceptance by society, and the demand for legal and/or religions institutions will be posed in the research project. By the method of autobiographical narrative interviews, a sample consisting of 30 to 35 individuals who are currently in relationships with more than one partner (5–7 “relationship clusters”) will be questioned. This inside view will be compared with an outside view to find similarities and differences on the mentioned topics. About 150 articles in newspaper and periodicals that include polyamorous issues (which represents about a third of all published articles since its first appearance in 2007) will be categorised and analysed.

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