Intimacy: Personal Relationships in Modern Societies

Article excerpt

Intimacy: Personal Relationships in Modern Societies. Lynn Jamieson. Maiden, MA: Polity Press. 1997. 209 pp. ISBN 0-7456-1574-0. $54.95 cloth, $23.95 paper.

Finding a monograph that is important reading for scholars, graduate students, and upper-division undergraduates is unusual. Jamieson's book is important for all three audiences. The emergence of "disclosing intimacy" is the focus of this book. Disclosing intimacy involves two or more people engaging in mutually sustaining a relationship based on communication, sharing, and showing feelings. Disclosing intimacy involves privileged knowing.

The argument and issues are reasonably well documented, drawing on both European and U.S. scholarship. Although Jamieson is a sociologist, the literature includes a great deal of the relevant work in psychology and human development. The transitions between a sociological and a psychological perspective are balanced and will inform scholars from both orientations.

"Stories" and "storytellers" provide a framework for this historical and cross-cultural statement on intimacy. The contrast between public stories and personal experiences is illustrated frequently. We are exposed to many "academic" stories of intimacy. My first reaction to using stories as a framework was that the book would be a cynical assessment of intimacy. This is not the case. Although the limitations of all sides and perspectives are exposed, the stories are presented as a way to show the emergence of disclosing intimacy.

I believe this book will enlighten many advanced undergraduates. Although many courses on relationship development pay lip service to historical changes, the curriculum remains largely ahistorical. …