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The quality of our intimate relationships and experiences are a focus of attention in modern Britain.  That we can access an authentic self through intimacy with others is a pervading notion represented in art, literature, film and other mass media.  A perceived lack of intimacy in our daily lives fuels the therapeutic industries. This module will examine how sociology can help us understand the construct of ‘the self’.  It will also address how intimate relationships have changed over time. Students will be introduced to theoretical perspectives to analyse and critique those changes. 

At the end of the module the you should be able to:

1. Give an overview of the changing nature of intimate relations in Britain

2. Critically assess the contribution of sociology to understanding intimacy and ‘the self’

3. Express understanding of issues and debates raised throughout the module in the form of an essay

Shift from traditionalization to detraditionalization

Globalization had an immense impact not only the lives of people but also the different bonds that people share with each other. Anthony Giddens in his different works have remarked how the recent trend of globalization has affected personal relationships and as well as inner lives of different individual residing in the capitalist societies of the west. Giddens have mainly worked on the detraditionalisation trend that had shifted the common traditional ways of handling a lifestyle to that of modern trends which although not entirely different but have another perspective to see modern relationships. Many others researchers are also of the idea that the intimacy as well as sexual relationships has really been affected by the pressures of globalization which have resulted in a shift of traditional models of intimacy towards a form which is post-traditional (Hookway, 2017). Such a transformation is a common phenomena that is not only found in United Kingdom but also in many developed countries.  Large number of modern day lives is undergoing severe stresses and depression mainly because the trend of detradionalisation has not been properly evaluated by individuals. This has resulted in development of intimacies or relationships which are half hearted. Therefore researchers often suggest that trying to connect with someone requires the individual to be satisfactorily happy with his own self (Stone and Weinberg 2015).  Clear indication and happiness about owns personality will help an individual to create a relation that will never be affected by trends of traditionalisation or detraditionalisation. Therefore the essay will first portray how traditionalisation has gradually shifted into the concept of detraditionalisation with the dynamic concept of globalization in the modern decades. It will try to establish the modifications of the concept of intimacy with theory based approach that will shed more light into it. It will also establish about how the important of maintaining of an authentic self had become important in the maintenance of a stable daily livelihood.

Traditionalisation in love and relationships among different couples was previously a norm but are very hard to find nowadays. Traditional romantic love along with traditional expectations was mainly visible in the pprevous generation where religion, ethnicity, class, social behavior and others played a huge role (Hooff, 2016). Previously, a use of traditional approach was copied generations after generations. Here a child learnt the meaning of attachment from their parents and immediate relatives and develop their perceptions of intimacy. Parents usually used to infuse the culture of the concept that an individuals should get married around the age group of twenties and commit to his partner in such a way so that they can live an entire lifetime with peace and harmony. However it is also a fact that even nowadays, individuals look for a partner with whom he can not only be able to establish a physical intimacy but a mental peace as well but the entire approach had been different nowadays (Moore, 2016). Although researchers debate that the concept of traditionalisation of intimacy in relationships still remain at the root of establishing a happy life but the approach towards it is not as conventional and traditional that it used to be. Previously an inheritance of trends of previous generations is no longer entertained by people. Individuals herein practice their own authentic self to decide about his demands his life and in the relationship and also the initiatives he takes to achieve that (Tornqvist 2016). Researchers suggest that there has been a shift in tradition where the concept of individualization has crept in. this concept has changed the perspectives about how a person looks over the topic of intimacy in the recent modern societies. Autonomy and individualism have been the features of globalization where people have developed the concept so that they can bring their own creativity as well as intelligence to alter the traditional habits that are ingrained within them (Catalina-lonela 2016).

Significance of maintaining an authentic self

Another important debate had been put forward by a number of researchers. Through many ages society have infused the feeling of the importance of child centered family definition where a male is determined as an individual who would be earning for the family and the female would be the carer of the home and derived as the homemaker. Recent rage of the feminism concept that had been helped women to develop a significant image for them had contributed to large extend in deterring an authentic self where they have been able to breakdown the traditionalized image (Green, Valleriani and Adam 2015). Women have been able to develop a self image that had helped them to overcome the barriers and therefore the concept of detraditionalisation had totally revolutionarized the concept. Recent trends have declined the traditional role of men and women where people never mind in switching roles thereby developing a relationship which is not only comfortable but where each respects the other’s needs and this in turn has resulted in development of intimacy (Llopis-Goig 2015). However exceptions are still there where many men refuse to take the activity to care for their children and are forced upon the women to do so. Therefore intimacy development in a relation between women and men had always been difficult to apprehend.

It is often found that the concept of intimacy is perceived differently by the society and not much change has been incorporated in the outlook of the society. Traditionalisation has totally opposed the concept of self authenticity and the practice of individualistic approach in relationships. Traditionalisation has looked intimacy as a part of a couple who would be living together overcoming their differences in their family like poverty, inability of having one’s own property, problems of having a baby, inequalities, improper sexual lives and emotional incompatibility. This kind of outlook has resulted in severe compromise in maintaining a life which would be loved and treasured by an individual (Watt and Elliot 2017). This never results in the growth of intimacy and in turn the quality of relationship is compromised. In this case detraditionalisation is indeed helping in this situation as it had helped the individuals never to compromise with self happiness. Maintaining authenticity in one’s own feelings and keeping one’s own importance and happiness in a relationship have been determined by researchers to be extremely significant to lea a quality life (How 2016). In contemporary societies the trend of detraditionalisation has helped each and every individual to develop a scope where they can practice their feelings genuinely and do not have to give up to societal norms in order to maintain traditions. As individuals, this days have understood the importance and have started tackling their relationships and developing intimacy in different ways. Therefore, the contemporary societies are seeing a large number of divorce cases and the method of obtaining divorces have become easier legally over the past five decades. No longer has a woman or a men to be engaged in a compromised relationship and they can enjoy their authentic self if they are no longer compatible in establishing an intimate relationship with his or her partner (Elizabeth and Baker 2015). Therefore individualistic outlook had in turn helped in developing individuals where they can stress on their own happiness rather than the customs and rituals that are maintained by societal norms.

Role of individualism and feminism in intimacy

Connecting with an individual’s authentic self has been proved to help in development of intimacy. Each and every society is goal oriented. It has been found that growing up in such a goal oriented society might have helped in the achieving of success in the professional life but have rarely helped in the development of safe as well as satisfying relationships. One can push himself too much so that he can work harder and thereby promote their viewpoints. They work harder to develop their professional career by increasing their sales figures and attend professional triumphs (Boskovich 2016). However society can never guide a person in this way in developing intimacy in individuals. A society can never develop a goal for a couple in intimate relationships in order to achieve a relationship. A person can force himself to gain success in professional life but he can never practice any such kind of pressure to develop intimacy. A person needs to be authentic to him and should be clear in his conscience not only about his own demands but must also care for what his partner wants. Developing an authentic self and engaging into a relationship will keep him not only happy but also help him develop a life which would be satisfying and will make him look forward. If a n individual wants to persuade, manipulate or control another persons’ life, it would only result him in losing them and thereby creating distances. In order to develop an intimate relationship, it is important to invite people towards them and in order to achieve a proper relationship one needs to have a different mindset as well as a particular skill set (Kolarz 2016). In order to achieve intimacy in a relationship, one needs to involve himself in creating a fertile soil that will help in the development of connections by connecting with him first. To simplify it, in order to achieve authentic self, the individual should always remain be mindful of what he is experiencing in each of the moments.

Often while in the quest of developing a relationship where one can develop intimacy, it is often seen that an individual tries to change the qualities in her or his partner rather than analyzing the facts that he needs to change about himself. It is much easier to see others flaws but it is really difficult to identify a person’s own blind spot. The main resolution to develop a healthy intimate relationship is by noticing and then sharing everything that the individual is himself experiencing inside (Chambers 2013). Often uncovering the facts that an individual is often feeling and wanting inside is highly important so that the person develops the feature of self authenticity. Development of a tender relationship thereby requires an individual to reveal his authentic feelings and desires. This will help in eliciting a more positive response than a defensive reaction. It has been seen through ages that mass media, films, literature and others have played an important role in disclosing information about others. This had have both positive and negative impacts on a nation (Korpela 2014). Recent trends of social media have created a passageway here both fakeness and self authenticity is making huge headlines. While the different media and concerned authorities are publishing gossips in order to increase their sales figure, again the same platforms are the ones which have provided individual enough scopes to show the genuenity within him, another important aspect that literature and art have always tried to establish that by developing a truthful relationship and establishment of intimacy with a partner, it inevitably requires the exposure of the true genuinity of one s own heart. This will in turn ensure a bonding that can be hardly be affected by the age old customs of traditionalisation.

Communication in developing intimacy

Giddens’ detraditionalisation thesis can be well applied to the present case of discussion to understand how the trends over the years have affected the development of intimacy in individuals. Giddens had however accepted the fact that the concepts that re practiced to even today are not entirely against traditionalism but is moving beyond that with a phase called post traditional time. He has provided a number of aspects that help in the establishment of the recent trends that modern day relationships are following (Sznair 2015). While the different customs are cold, receptive and ritualized, the post traditional trends according to him had been experimental as well as revisable. Although, the previous trends were organized but the detraditionalisation had been disorganized and do not maintain a strict rigidity giving more importance to human emotions. Detraditionalisation also chose preferences over virtues so that intimacy is developed with consents from both out of love and not due to customs practiced by society. the ne ones are novel and future oriented unlike the tradition of the past. Previously the society was given the responsibility to practice moral force but detraditionalisation had contributed to the development of better intimacy due to the decision of leaving the concept of morality to the individuals. Therefore Giddens had described how the alterations form the traditionalisation into detraditionalisation had taken place by the involvement of shift of authority from ‘without’ to ‘within’. He had also stated that voice is also displaced from established sources and is very much within the control of self. Basically it had helped development of intimacy in relationship which is not out of necessity but is due to reflexivity that can be stated as choice. Detraditionalisation basically no longer believes in the concept of traditionalisation and therefore entails a sharp decline of the assumption in the pre-given or natural order of things.

Another theory had also been utilized in the modern sociology studies which had been put forward by Beck. He had also pointed out domains where he feels that moving with the previous trends of traditionalisation. It becomes excessively hectic to develop intimacy as the social norms provide very few chances to express individualistic wishes (Woodman, Threadgold and Possami-Inneseddi 2015). His individualization thesis has put forward the fact that the concept of traditional norms, values, social classes and others were being dominant the individualistic behaviors. He had clearly stated that it an individual’s personal life should be highly reflexive and should be driven by him and it is the responsibility of the individual to accomplish it himself rather than being dictated by the social norms. Therefore he had clearly stated that one must defeat the social system of implementing the norms, cultures and other inhibitions in an individual’s choice of selecting relationships and develop their own choices in order to gain happiness and be responsible to their own actions.

Another important arena that needs to be referred here is that traditionalisation usually believes that intimacy in a relationship can only be obtained within a couple of opposite sexes. Researchers have now come to the conclusion that sexuality cannot be chosen by an individual but is governed by factors such as environmental, biological and as well as psychological factors. The concept of homosexuality was strictly declared to be offensive and therefore people with homosexual feelings used to condemn their real feelings in their families to protect their families from any kind of disappointments (Bracke 2016). However, recent researches have shown that with great amount of revolutions and the recent trends of detraditionalisation, such people have been able to breathe in fresh air and had been able to reveal their identities. These had helped them to develop intimate relationships with their partners which were previously much derogatory in front of societal norms.

As a result, one can come to a conclusion that recent trends of detraditionalisation had helped in making lives of propel much easier. This is said so because they had been able to break the different social customs, stigma and barriers and had been able to be own self. Being their own self had helped him to develop an intimacy in their relationship which is free from any sort of social interruptions and social norms. It had helped an individual to exhibit true self and develop self authenticity. This had many relationships to be as transparent as it could be which had automatically helps individuals to be intimate with each other. Developing self authenticity and practicing individualistic approach had helped individuals to be more independent about their outlook towards life and therefore the intimacy that they develop with their partners have more strength than the conventional relationships formed by societies in earlier days.

References:

Boskovic, B., 2016, July. Anthony Giddens's Understanding of Identity in Modernity: Relevance and Questions. In Third ISA Forum of Sociology (July 10-14, 2016). Isaconf.

Bracke, P., 2016. Comparative mental health sociology: In between psychiatric epidemiology and theories of societal discontent. In Future challenges for health and health care in Europe (Vol. 3, pp. 154-154). Aalborg University Press.

C?t?lina-Ionela, R.E.Z.E.A.N.U., 2016. Reflexive Transformation of Intimacy in Late Modernity Theories: Some Critiques and Conceptual Alternatives. Postmodern Openings, 7(01), pp.35-54.

Chambers, D. 2013. Conceptualising Intimacy and Friendship. In Social Media and Personal Relationships (pp. 40-60). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Elizabeth, V. and Baker, M., 2015. Transiting through cohabitation to marriage: emerging commitment and diminishing ambiguity. Families, Relationships and Societies, 4(1), pp.53-70.

Green, A.I., Valleriani, J. and Adam, B., 2015. Marital Monogamy as Ideal and Practice: The Detraditionalization Thesis in Contemporary Marriages. Journal of Marriage and Family.

Hooff, J., 2016. An everyday affair: Deciphering the sociological significance of women's attitudes towards infidelity. The Sociological Review.

Hooff, J., 2016. An everyday affair: Deciphering the sociological significance of women's attitudes towards infidelity. The Sociological Review.

Hookway, N., 2017. The moral self: Class, narcissism and the problem of do-it-yourself moralities. The Sociological Review, p.0038026117699540.

How, A.R., 2016. On the Antipathy of Sociology to the Past. In Restoring the Classic in Sociology (pp. 57-85). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Kolarz, P., 2016. Introduction: Anthony Giddens—Social Theory and Politics. In Giddens and Politics beyond the Third Way (pp. 1-17). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Korpela, M., 2014. Lifestyle of freedom? Individualism and lifestyle migration. Understanding Lifestyle Migration: Theoretical Approaches to Migration and the Quest for a Better Way of Life. Hampshire: Palgrave, pp.27-46.

Llopis-Goig, R., 2015. Detraditionalization, Hyper-consumption and Ambivalence. In Spanish Football and Social Change (pp. 104-118). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Moore, E., 2016. Understanding Families and Personal Relationships. In Divorce, Families and Emotion Work (pp. 53-80). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Stone, A.L. and Weinberg, J.D., 2015. Sexualities and social movements: three decades of sex and social change. In Handbook of the Sociology of Sexualities (pp. 453-465). Springer International Publishing.

Sznaider, N., 2015. Ulrich Beck and classical sociological theory. Journal of Classical Sociology, 15(2), pp.220-225.

Toft, A. and Yip, A.K.T., 2017. Intimacy negotiated: The management of relationships and the construction of personal communities in the lives of bisexual women and men. Sexualities, p.1363460716679793.

Törnqvist, M., 2016. Rethinking intimacy: Semi-anonymous spaces and transitory attachments in Argentine tango dancing. Current Sociology, p.0011392116681385.

Watt, L. and Elliot, M., 2017. Continuity and change in sexual attitudes: A cross-time comparison of tolerance towards non-traditional relationships. The Sociological Review, p.0038026116674887.

Woodman, D., Threadgold, S. and Possamai-Inesedy, A., 2015. Prophet of a new modernity: Ulrich Beck’s legacy for sociology. Journal of Sociology, 51(4), pp.1117-1131.

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