Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Changing Relations: Achieving Intimacy in a Time of Socialtransition

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Changing Relations: Achieving Intimacy in a Time of Socialtransition

Article excerpt

Robin Goodwin. CHANGING RELATIONS: ACHIEVING INTIMACY IN A TIME OF SOCIALTRANSITION. NY: Cambridge University Press, 2009, 244 pages, (Hbk.) $90 US. ISBN 978-0-521-84204-4.

In this volume, Goodwin presents an authoritative account of how relationships of ordinary people are transformed as a result of "changes" not only in their immediate social environment, but also the events that may take place on the other side of the world. This book is especially timely given that we are currently in the midst of a global recession and still living in the aftermath of the 9/11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Goodwin defines social change as "any substantial shift in a political, economic, or social system." (p. 3) He argues that the impact of such social changes may be rapid and direct, slow and indirect, or both. These changes, however, are moderated and mediated by individual, group, or cultural factors. Certain individuals, cultural groups, or societies may be more or less susceptible to these transitions. I will specifically discuss the two interrelated theres of mate selection and gender roles.

Goodwin's review of the latest cross-cultural research regarding mate selection indicates a trend towards increasing personal freedom and lessening of the social group and family influences. Even in more traditional societies such as Turkey, where arranged marriages are still strong, the development of attraction between future marital partners is considered necessary for the union by the family. Within the United States, there has been an increase in importance of both romantic love and physical attractiveness for both sexes within the last decades. Moreover, gender differences in desirable mate qualities have narrowed. Contrary to the traditional gender roles, both men and women today value education and good job prospects in their ideal partners. Economic considerations regarding choosing a mate appear to be especially important in societies in which corpetition for employment is fierce. …

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