Reflexive Transformation of Intimacy in Late Modernity Theories: Some Critiques and Conceptual Alternatives

Reflexive Transformation of Intimacy in Late Modernity Theories: Some Critiques and Conceptual Alternatives| Catalina-Ionela REZEANU

Abstract: The last decades have seen a growing trend towards researching intimacy.
A considerable amount of literature has been published based on the reflexive transformation of intimacy framework. This paper starts from the premise that, recently, more and more scholars have criticized the idea that detraditionalization and individualization led to the transformation of intimacy during reflexive modernity (late modernity).
Critics question the ability of late modernity concepts to offer a cross-cultural and nuanced image of contemporary particularities of private life and intimate relations. The purpose of this study is to show the current state of knowledge in the social sciences on individualization thesis and detraditionalization thesis, the main theoretical criticisms of the two theses and conceptual alternatives to them. To achieve these goals, we conducted an interpretive synthesis of 16 articles from international literature, published between 1999-2014, in the thematic area of social changes brought by late modernity into the domain of private life and intimacy. In the Introduction section, we briefly present the two theses as reflected in the two of the most cited books on these themes: The Transformations of Intimacy. Sexuality, Love and Eroticism in Modern Societies (Giddens, 1992) and The Normal Chaos of Love (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim, 1995). In the body of the paper, we synthesize the arguments sustaining the criticism of the two theses and show some conceptual alternatives to these criticisms, as stated in the literature. In the concluding section, we resume the main arguments to open directions for future studies.

Keywords: detraditionalization, individualization, pure relationship, democratization of intimacy, therapeutic culture.