‘Going against the grain’? Distance relationships, emotional reflexivity and gender

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Intimacy at a distance is becoming an increasingly likely experience for a wide range of people, not only migrants. In the context of globalization and rapid change, many face novel situations and uncertainty around how to feel. Distance relationships therefore provide good examples of how globalised intimacies promote emotional reflexivity. Yet the extent to which distance relationships promote emotional reflexivity is likely to vary depending on the type of relationship and the socio-relational and spatial context. This paper explores that possibility by referring to ESRC-funded research involving joint interviews with UK-based academic couples in distance relationships1 and another project analysing online accounts written by UK and Australian internet daters looking for partners. The findings suggest that distance relationships between potential partners online can promote emotional reflexivity that troubles gender relations at an interpersonal level, but that established and committed couple relationships conducted at a distance are more likely to challenge structural gender inequalities. These empirical examples show that globalised social change around gender needs to be understood in relation to different kinds of mobility, not just international migration. Thus, this paper contributes to understandings of the increasing importance of emotional reflexivity in bringing about and in understanding social change under globalised social conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-62
Number of pages7
JournalEmotion, Space and Society
Early online date8 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2019


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