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Are personal relationships deeper and more intimate than ever before or are they increasingly empty and structured by selfish individualism? This book pursues the question in a wide-ranging discussion of the changing nature of intimacy in modern societies. The book starts by asking whether intimacy is a basic human need. The author then discusses whether a particular type of intimacy is now being sought in all close relationships in western societies, and whether this involves a sharing or our innermost selves or if relationships are still fundamentally shaped by power and economic considerations. Through a series of individual chapters focusing on relationships between parents and children, families, sexual partners, couples and friends, Jamieson shows that many current beliefs about the nature of relationships need to be re-thought, and she argues for a more grounded, gendered and complex picture of intimacy. As well as a critical evaluation of theories of change in personal life, an impressive range of scholarship from Europe, America, Australia and New Zealand is brought to bear on the issues.
Intimacy will be of interest to scholars and students of sociology, women's studies, and gender studies.
Lynn Jamieson is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Edinburgh.