Intimacy as a Concept: Explaining Social Change in the Context of Globalisation or Another Form of Ethnocentricism?

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Abstract

This article focuses on intimacy in terms of its analytical potential for understanding social change without the one-nation blinkers sometimes referred to as 'methodological nationalism' and without Euro-North- American ethnocentrism. Extending from the concept of family practices, practices of intimacy are sketched and examples considered across cultures. The cultural celebration and use of the term 'intimacy' is not universal, but practices of intimacy are present in all cultures. The relationship of intimacy to its conceptual relatives is clarified. A brief discussion of subjectivity and social integration restates the relevance of intimate relationships and practices of intimacy to understanding social change in an era of globalisation, despite the theoretical turn away from embodied face to face relationships. Illustrations concerning intimacy and social change in two areas of personal life, parental authority and gender relations, indicate that practices of intimacy can re-inscribe inequalities such as those of age, class and gender as well as subvert them and that attention to practices of intimacy can assist the need to explain continuity as well as change.
Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalSociological Research Online
Volume16
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2011

Keywords

  • Love and Intimacy
  • Globalization
  • Ethnocentric
  • Social Change
  • Inequality
  • Di course
  • Family Practices

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