- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1st edition (October 1, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0804722145
- ISBN-13: 978-0804722148
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,154,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Transformation of Intimacy: Sexuality, Love, and Eroticism in Modern Societies 1st Edition
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"This is a short book that differs in style from Giddens's others. He strives here for accessibility and readability. . . . The chapters are all interesting and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, concise and to the point." (Contemporary Sociology)
"Giddens, a towering figure in Anglo-American sociology, has now extended his analyses of modernity to include the area of intimacy in this thoughtful and provocative book." (Choice)
From the Inside Flap
The author suggests that the revolutionary changes in which sexuality has become cauth up are more long-term than generally conceded. He sees them as intrinsic to the development of modern societies as a whole and to the broad characteristics of that development. Sexuality as we know it today is a creation of modernity, a terrain upon which the contradictory tendencies of modern social life play themselves out in full. Emancipation and oppression, opportunity and risk—these have become a part of a heady mix that irresistably ties our individual lives to global outcomes and the transformation of intimacy.
We live today in a social order in which, for the first time in histroy, women are becoming equal to men—or at least have lodged a claim to such equality as their right. The author does not attempt to analyze the gender inequalities that persist in the economic or political domains, but instead concentrates on a more hisdden personal area in which women—ordinary women, in the course of their day-to-day lives, quite apart from any political agenda—have pioneered changes of greate, and generalizable, importance. These changes essentially concern an exploration of the potentialities of the “pure relationship,” a relaitonship that presumes sexual and emotional equality, and is explosive in its connotations for pre-existing relations of power.
The author analyzes the emergence of what he calls plastic sexuality—sexuality freed from its intrinsic relation to reproduction—in terms of the emotional emancipation implicit in the pure relationship, as well as women’s claim to sexual pleasure. Plastic sexuality is decentered sexuality, freed from both reproduction and subservience to a fixed object. It can be molded as a trait of personality, and thus become bound up with the reflexivity of the self. Premised on plastic sexuality, the pure relationship is not exclusively heterosexual; it is neutral in terms of sexual orientation.
The author speculates that the transformaion of intimacy might be a subversive influence on modern institutions as a whole, for a social world in which the dominant ideal was to achieve intinsic rewards from the company of others might be vastly different from that which we know at the present.
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Some of this will be "old news" for those familiar with feminist literature, but for most people it will be an integrative look at what most of of have been experiencing without understanding. It may be a little too literate or scholarly for the mass market, but most people will find it interesting, if occasionally difficult. (One does not need to understand Foucault to get anything out of the book, however that particular chapter might be wasted.) There are only two shortcomings:  A general tendency to characterize men as the cultural laggards (though probably deservedly) despite a good section on the men's movement. I believe he could have explored more of the contradictions of men's current roles, as done by the more recent book by Susan Faludi- "Stiffed", and  a failure to explore what, if any, connection this micro "democratization" has with the increasingly hierarchial and globalized society at large. All in all, though, an excellent work.
Hedonism will be widely accepted in the future according to Giddens. In fact he expects Hedonistic Consumerism to replace capitalistic productivity as the driving force behind economics and politics. The consumerism of sex is proof to this phenomenon. During the industrial age one had to work long and hard to be productive while sexual pleasures were considered detrimental to those efforts. The additional disposable time one has earned through an incredible increase in production via the informational age has reversed this view that sexual pleasure is counterproductive. A sexual transformation is at hand.
Giddens discusses Freud in detail concerning the phallus and penis envy. He is somewhat critical of Freud but applies these concepts to explain how and why man and woman develop their sexual identity and how this identity explains society. Men develop a masculine identity while women femininity. It is this masculinity that has plagued man for it is a lacking identity. It lacks intimacy and so it desires what it lacks. Women have intimacy but lack independence and autonomy. At some point in modernity women have emerged from their role of mother to join society as an equal of man. This has led to a subconscious effort by man to control women. Man sees this emergence as a threat and as a result responds at times with violence. Rape is the modern context is an act of control or punishment. Rape in pre-modern times usually occurred in the fringes of society such as the frontiers lacking authority, during wars by soldiers, etc. but not as punishment or controlling measure but for the sheer act of sexual pleasure. Rape, according to Giddens, in today's society is committed by loyalists of a day gone by where men ruled the roost. It is their way of being deviant.
I think if Giddens is correct we will witness a future in which one will not be viewed as a "manly man" or a "girly girl" but as an individual without any gender specific roles to portray. This reminds me of Foucault's view on Greek sexuality. The Greeks did not see beauty in the form of a woman or a man but rather saw beauty in a being irregardless of their gender. Bi-sexuality or homosexuality did not exist for they did not recognize the distinction. Giddens celebrates the lifestyles that are emerging in today's world. These lifestyles are in fact not only emerging but are thriving so I would have a hard time disputing his conclusions that sexual emancipation is at hand. One only has to visit any urban city of significant population to witness first-hand the numerous gay bars and nightclubs, swinger's clubs, and BDSM clubs that have opened in recent years. While I gained some insight into what is happening in society concerning sexuality, I am unsure if I should be confused or concerned.