Dissertation submitted (10/2021) and successfully defended (03/2022)

On the 27th of October 2021, Stefan Ossmann submitted his doctoral thesis titling 'Loving, living, acting, thinking and feeling poly. Polyamory in self-perception and media representation in the German-speaking region 2007–2017' at the University of Vienna. The dissertation was reviewed by Prof. Dr. Jens Rydström und Prof.in Dr.in Judit Takacs.

On 4th of March 2022 Stefan Ossmann successfully defended his theis by the chair of vice-Studienpräses DDr. Julia Wippersberg, the two reviewers and the thesis supervisors  Prof. Dr. Franz X. Eder und ao. Prof. Dr. Fritz Hausjell at the Department of Communications at the University of Vienna. 

The thesis consists of overall 435 pages and is publicly accessable by this link (Database University of Vienna). Following the abstract as handed in:


Polyamory – understood as a consensual relationship between more than two people based on emotional love and intimate acts over a longer period of time – emerged in the academic as well as societal discussion in the 1990s, with literature predominately focussing on sexual diversity in society and history. Anchoring polyamory within the wider LGBTIQ discourse leads to the issues that are discussed in the thesis: the love and life biographies of individuals; categorizations with regard to sexual minority groups; social acceptance by different peers; the (presumed) demand for legal as well as religious recognition; and the collection and distribution of information on polyamory.

The theoretical background is the communication science theory of media framing which, using a hypothesis-generating approach, illustrates to which extent the self-perception of those affected matches or clashes with the media representation. The applied methods are autobiographical narrative interviews with 33 people from a total of 14 polycules; and a qualitative content analysis of 368 newspaper and magazine articles on polyamory published in Austria, Germany and Switzerland in the years 2007 to 2017 (full survey).

The findings deliver a new, adapted understanding of the term polyamory from which the definition of loving, living, acting, thinking, and feeling poly is derived. Furthermore, different affected characters (poly prototypes) are identified. As for the overall question, the media representation corresponds self-perception regarding biographical, categorization and religious matters; and predominately regarding legal issues; self-perception only differs from predominant media representation with regard to social acceptance and the collection of poly knowledge.

Copyright: Stefan Ossmann