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Detraditionalization Of Intimacy In Contemporary Society Sociology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 1617 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The traditional romantic love has to meet traditional expectations that are enforced by previous generation, religion, ethnicity and class. Parents expected their children to get marry in their early twenties, commit a relationship that last for life with only one partner of opposite sex. The lack of autonomy brings these traditions as a crucial plan copied by generations (Illouz, 2007). From the earliest stages of life child learn the meaning of attachment between parents; their romantic love; way of caring and treating each other. Following the traditional desire of being engaged in such relationship young people from the early stages of their lives are trying (struggling) to find a partner (Gittins, 1985). Nowadays, according to Hochschild, one of the most important achievements in high schools and colleges/universities is finding a boyfriend/girlfriend, that is one of the arguments that reject the theory of detraditionalization of intimacy. The desire of making a traditional form of family remains in this case unchanged. On the other hand there is a shift from the tradition, as Beck and Beck-Gernsheim highlight’ process of individualisation changed the perspectives of intimacy in modern societies. The presence of individualism and autonomy in nowadays people bring their own creativity and intelligence to change ingrained traditional habits.

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There is number of reasons why people stay in relationships. Cold economical calculations, higher ability of taking care of offspring and tradition may force people to stay together in same household creating solidarity and support. Fundamental way of living as a child-cenetered family define a man as a working individual, responsible for “money making”, and a dependant woman as an emotional worker, that is taking care of children, house, support family and is responsible for the feelings between the partners (Giddens, 1992). Feminisation brings changes in family practices. More equal responsibility division detraditionalises the way of living. Because of globalisation, urbanisation and industrialisation women in working class take the part of men’s duties finding employment and therefore making greater degree of equality and also greater control over their lives as Illouz mentioned. Nowadays nurseries and other places that may take care of a young children increase the chance for women to work. Detraditionalization refers in this case to a decline in traditional role playing, forcing men to take some responsibility of child care. In answer Jamieson disputes, as many men refuse that commitments and moreover women naturally take a role of caring that they are born to. Giddens also unveil the idea of equality that comes from transformations in changing societies that adapts to a more individualized world and not just copying the way of acting of prior generations. Nevertheless natural differences assume the unequal division of responsibilities between genders. Moreover traditionalism may protect the solidarity of the families as it tightens kinship ties.

Traditions do not advocate the idea of divorce and being a single parent. Almost everyone is expected to marry young, to have children, to stay in the same household, please and support each other with their emotions for a life (Gittins, 1985). Many disturbances may occur within a family, such as poverty and inability of having own house, problems with having a baby, emotional incompatibility, inequalities, not having a satisfying sex life et cetera that may begin a process of relationship breakdown. In contemporary societies divorces are becoming more popular and legally easier over the last 50 years (Gittins, 1985). Divorce rate is almost two hundred times higher than a century ago. Usually a woman is taking care of children after divorce, and this is affecting her career as well as social life. Having responsibility for earning a living and caring for children is often treated by a community as odd, strange as it is inconsistent with a traditions. On the other hand divorced man that is seeing child only occasionally is treated normally by others.

Intimacy does not occur only within a marriage. Traditionally love and sex are consequences of marriage. Nowadays not many people decide to follow that principle starting dating other people and start their sexual lives before marriage as Jamieson suggested. Beck and Beck-Gernsheim state that staying together in a same home is no longer a universal rule for being in intimate relationship. Increasing number of couples that decided to live that kind of life brings common understanding of this new form of family. Latest researches show that about ten per cent of people over eighteen live apart together, and is more common for younger people to lead this kind of intimate relationships. Cohabiting partners that live at different addresses are now perceived like married. Staying apart brings more equality, freedom and independency as Levin suggested. Although it is contradictory to tradition is becoming more common. Within many societies (such as religious) staying apart is inappropriate and perceived as morally wrong (Beck, Beck-Gernsheim, 1995). Also as Levin state intimate relationships maintained in one house may be more stable and may also guarantee more predictable future as tradition assume.

Traditional look at intimate relationship assume that only opposite sex partners may create an intimate relations. Biologists demonstrate the naturally occurring homosexuality between many species, in human as well. Sexuality cannot be chose but is driven by many factors such as psychological and biological as well as environmental. As Giddens disputes this kind of relationship is analysed as the one that deny the idea of reproduction, and stay far from traditional order. Sexual, gay and lesbian, movements fighting for the rights for homosexual relations meet greater social tolerance. Caplan recall that within homosexual couples there is more equal division which may be one of the causes why people decide to stay in this kind of intimate relationship. Until recently, homosexuality was kept as a secret; most of the homosexual people grew up in traditional families which find homosexuality as disappointing. For fear of being eliminated from social groups, number of homosexual couples decided to be in hiding as the pressure from outside may cause psychological harm to them as well as their close families and friends (Jamieson, 1998). Nowadays homosexual communities are becoming recognised due to popularisation of Love Parades (such in Berlin), this departure from traditional meaning of intimacy therefore is tolerated by greater number of people. However religious community still traditionally recognize same-sex relationships as unacceptable.

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Modernity, big cities, and transformation of intimacy bring new forms of dating and making intimate relationships. Anonymity allows the early sexuality to become more often practiced. Life time commitment became not the most important desire of a human’s life (Gittins, 1992). Erotic needs are natural and healthy according to Weeks; it is not only duty that is required within marriages as a proof of love. Theorist of detraditionalization agree that sexual revolution of 1920s bring a new look on intimate sexual contacts and the practice of marriage is becoming less popular (Giddens, 1992). Universally available television (such as romantic comedies, shows, popular romantic music video clips et cetera) creates new, detraditionalized form of relationships. Friendship as a purest relationship, which is not bringing any ties (financial or legal) and independency may become intimate sexual relationship especially if is cross-gendered as Jamieson stated. Friends with benefits (or “fuck buddies”) are more common as nowadays sex is one of the entertaining for a young people of a middle class. Traditionally sex was reserved for marriages, menace of AIDS, moral and religious rules were used in family based sexual education. Nowadays sex as a form of intimacy is meeting greater acceptance, also availability of contraception changed the approach to a higher sexual activity (Hochschild, 2003). Sex was a duty, woman had to please her man and man was expected to enjoy that. Man is not the only having a pleasure in sexual intimate contact. Formerly woman was ashamed when admitting having sex but recently not having sex is becoming odd (Jamieson, 1998).

Theorists of detraditionalization exaggerate the changes within intimacy that occur recently. Traditional family stay as a desire of many people in different societies. People want to lead stable lives with their partners in harmony with moral rules. Religion (such as Christianity, Catholicism et cetera) and societies found many of the detraditionalizated practices as inappropriate, and someone who follows different ways may be excluded from such communities. Repeatedly people follow the tradition passed from the previous generations to avoid a social shame even if they want to live their own, individual lives. One true love, that lasts for life and may be found in fairy tales, romantic movies and popular songs, is still one of the most important aspirations/achievements. On the other hand number of sociologists agrees that traditional intimacy is becoming less important making place for individualised relationships and therefore not everyone is choosing a traditional pattern of life. Autonomy, individualism is a driving force for detraditionalization while idea of conventional, traditional intimacy is entangled in every human’s life.


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