For political scientist Anne Muxel, the rapprochement of opinions comes from understanding and transparency, modern standards of living together, and a culture of compromise.
Anne Muxel, director of research in sociology and political science at CNRS (Cevipof-Sciences Po), is the author of You, me and politics. Love and beliefs (Threshold, 2008). She also led Privacy of beliefs. Politics, affectivity, intimacy, a collective work published in 2013 by the Presses de Science Po.
What place does politics occupy in the private space of the couple?
The private scene, that of the love or conjugal life, is a space of "Intimate politicization" In a couple, ideological convictions, which are part of the hard core of identity because they define a world-understanding pattern, are constantly modeled by affective interactions. Love and politics are registers of emotion, passion and affect: individuals must therefore arrange for their love bonds to be compatible with their ideological choices, which is not always easy. .
The love or conjugal space is a small model of the democratic experience. In three quarters of cases, there is no real dissensus, because the couple is marked by a strong political homogamy: in this case, the private democratic framework that is set up is not subject to tension. In a quarter of the cases, however, the couple is dissonant: the democratic experience is then to support the pluralism of opinion and diversity within the couple – the spouses must ensure that their political disagreements do not consequences on their love relationship. They must find
arrangements, and there is a whole range possible.
How do couples do to achieve this balance?
I have inventoried, in my works, the figures of agreement and disagreement by defining archetypes in the manner of Roland Barthes in his Fragments of a lover's speech. In consensual couples, the figure of the "categorical imperative" – the spouse must absolutely belong to the same political edge – is particularly present in politicized couples, especially if they are on the left: because these citizens believe in a collective project they have more difficulty in accepting political disagreement than right-wing voters, who willingly promote the freedom of the individual.
In the dissonant couples, the models range from the figure of the "pepper" – the political divergences make it possible to fight against the boredom and the routine – to the figure of the "democratic intimacy" – to like a different being is, for them, the quintessence of an ideal of
respect and tolerance, at the very foundation of the idea of democracy in its necessarily plural dimension. There are also more negative figures of disagreement: the figure of the "scene" – the ritual repetition of the same ideological disputes -, the figure of the "taboo", which consists of not talking about politics to avoid that the differences carry all on their way, but also the figure of the "break", which exists, even if it is rare.