Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Transformation of Intimacy

Chapters 8-10 Discussion Questions


First we will engage in an interactive discussion to get us warmed up to talk about the concluding chapters of the book. This means that I will hand out popular magazines to everyone in the class and ask for you all to find an article, gossip column, interview, etc that somehow relates to intimacy. (I may have an example so you know what exactly I'm looking for.)
Then I will ask anyone who is willing to tell us what the article is about from looking at the title and skimming it (we'll only get to look at the magz for about 10 minutes, probably.) Then tell us how it relates to anything Giddens has covered throughout the book. It can be pretty abstract...

Questions to ponder/discuss when looking at the Magazines:

1. How does the article focus (if at all) on issues of intimacy, relationships, heterosexuality/homo-sexuality, marriage, etc?

2. Can you find examples of any terms that Giddens brings up; such as plastic sexuality, episodic sexuality, pure relationships, etc, etc?

3. Do you think these magazines express the transformation that Giddens is introducing us to? Do you think these magazines have transcended his ideas of intimacy?

Has our society/culture grown since Giddens wrote this in 1992?
...Or do you think these magazines prove to us that nothing much has changed in terms of our relationships and sexuality?

Now back to the actual text:

1. I thought it was an interesting approach for Giddens' to look towards lesbian relationships to understand the dynamics of the "pure relationship." His definition of the "pure relationship" states it simply as "a relationship of sexual and emotional equality."(2) Although, regardless of the assumed equality within "pure relationships", Giddens points out the "fundamental tensions within the emergent world of "pure relationships." (136.) What can we say about this "purity" of equality when there are still contradictions (an entire dedicated to them)?

2. Giddens tends to slip in a lot of Freudian theories of relationships. Even though Freud is no longer such an accredited psychologist in our society today, can we still claim that some of his theories do ring true to some extent? OR is this problematic and completely impossible? Does Giddens present more accurate theories of relationships and sexuality such as Goldberg or Ehrenreich? (Freudian examples on pages 138, 154...probably more.)

Chapter 9 was the most difficult for me to grasp so I would like to hear what others thought and what it meant to them.

3. Marcuse believes that "sexual love can be liberating in a double sense" and be "compatible with wider social citizenship."(166) What is your opinion towards "sexual love" and its interactions with society?

4. What is the relationship between repression, permissiveness, and liberalization according to Giddens? Do you think repression is necessary for the development of society?

5. I found his section of Modernity as obsessional really interesting and enlightening. Giddens says "sexuality generates pleasure; and pleasure, or at least the promise of it, provides a leverage for marketing goods in a capitalistic society." (176) Do you find this statement to be true? If so, how do you suppose we get out of it? Is that an impossible question?

6.In his final chapter "Intimacy as Democracy", Giddens discusses his positive outlook on intimacy in terms of a democratic relationship. This was refreshing in comparison to Kipnis. He points out the importance of trust, respect, and equality within relationship which mirrors that of a democratic society/government. With such high divorce rates and infidelity, is it even possible to achieve this sort of intimacy? Given the amount of hours average Americans work each week, increasing stress levels, and a plethora of other issues, is there hope for a "pure relationship"?

Hopefully better questions will come up during discussion...

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