Changing Relations: Achieving Intimacy in a Time of Social Transition

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In a fast-changing world, what impact does social change have on our everyday relationships? How do modernisation processes influence our broader values, and how might these then affect our desires to marry, have a family and develop our social networks? And how do sudden events in a society – invasions, civil conflict, terrorist attacks, collapse of a political system – influence our relationship decisions and processes? In this book Goodwin critically reviews the literature on modernisation and contemporary relationships, challenging simplistic conclusions about the ‘end of intimacy’ and the inevitable decline of personal commitment. Reviewing work from across the globe, he also contends that adaptation to rapid change is moderated by individual, social class and cultural variations, with consequently differing impacts on everyday relations. In doing so he brings together contemporary debates in psychology, sociology and the political sciences on coping with social change and its impact on personal relations.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Robin Goodwin’s scholarship is truly interdisciplinary and international. It represents a tremendous contribution to the field of personal relationships, which is still largely multidisciplinary and dominated by scholars in English-speaking countries. As he explains how relationships adapt to a rapidly changing and confusing world, Goodwin does a masterful job of connecting macro-level theories of social change to micro-level theories of social interaction. In so doing, he provides a thorough review of the literature including oft-cited references as well as more obscure ones.”
—Rebecca G. Adams, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

“Doomsday commentators have worried that the stresses and strains of modern life – changes in education, employment, gender roles, marriage, child-rearing, and divorce – and the challenges of economic downturns, ethnic conflicts, epidemics, natural disasters, and cross-national migrations will render close human relationships extinct. In this fascinating book, Robin Goodwin ranges masterfully across societies, historical periods, and levels of analysis to show that human cultures and social systems – macro and micro – are more adaptable and resilient than pessimists assume. People find ways to know, support, and commit to each other; create families and make friends; and construct meaningful identities and lives, even if this requires both rapid and gradual changes in beliefs, expectations, mores, and patterns of cooperative behavior. Dazzling in its depth and breadth, beautifully written, Changing Relations provides a model of sophisticated relationship science.”
—Phillip R. Shaver, University of California, Davis

"...Changing Relations offers an intriguing perspective on the little researched question of how relationships respond to societal changes...thought provoking and enlightening. I recommend it to scholars (including graduate students) from such diverse fields as psychology, anthropology, sociology, political science, economics, and counseling simply because the book offers basic insights into relationships that are often overlooked. I also suggest that researchers starting to write a book would do well to consider using Goodwin’s work as a model. With extensively researched and documented data, well-structured organization, readable prose, 29 pages of references, and a fairly detailed index, Changing Relations represents the archetype to which many academics should aspire."
—Carol A. Gosselink, PsycCRITIQUES

"...critically reviews the literature on modernization and contemporary relationships, challenging simplistic conclusions about the "end of intimacy" and the inevitable decline of personal commitment..."
—-Family Therapy [Vol 36, Number 2]

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521842044
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 12/31/2008
  • Series: Advances in Personal Relationships Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 244
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Robin Goodwin is professor of social psychology at Brunel University, West London. A winner of the New Faculty (Steve Duck) Prize by the International Society for the Study of Personal Relationships, he is associate fellow of the British Psychological Society, associate editor at the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, and past chair of the publications committee for the International Network on Personal Relationships.

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Table of Contents

1. Defining and measuring social change; 2. The myth of modernisation?; 3. More beautiful than a monkey: the achievement of intimacy; 4. Friends and social networks; 5. Sex and the modern city; 6. Marriage and the family; 7. Modeling social change and relationships.

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