Intimacy Lectures: "Why is Intimacy replete with uncertainties?" Eva Illouz

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Intimacy has supplanted “love”  as the cultural ideal regulating sexual relationships. But intimacy is not an emotion. Rather, it is a complex verbal, physical, and sexual set of practices which constitute both the goal of a relationship and the techniques to reach that goal (for example, techniques to signal self-disclosure and  trust; techniques to establish emotional commonality and emotional support, etc.). Intimacy is thus not a feeling but a social form which has a definite morphology. And yet, it would be fair to suggest that albeit clearly and endlessly formulated in many cultural arenas,  intimacy is a cultural ideal fraught with difficulties and dilemmas. Indeed much of the sociological literature has focused on the breakdown of intimate relationships in divorce but has not addressed a more elusive question: why do so many relationships collapse long before they become institutionalized in marriage, love, or commitment? This lecture aims to clarify the reasons why “doing intimacy” is sociologically  complex and fraught with impasses by examining the set of cultural assumptions present in the management of a romantic and sexual self.
Funding provided by the Page-Barbour Fund, the Center for Global Inquiry and Innovation, UVa Law School, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, the Departments of Sociology, Anthropology, and Media Studies, and the Women, Gender & Sexuality Program.

3:30 - 5:00 PM
Nau 101