1 Feb. 2015
The Global Revolution in Family and Personal Life
Author: Anthony Giddens
Anthony Giddens, in this article, professes his idea of a Global Revolution in family and personal life. Giddens compares and contrasts multiple cultures in the aspects of sexuality, personal life, marriage and the family. He essentially has three ultimate goals in his article: (1) encourage a liberal view of politics, family, and personal life; (2) encourage a relationship model based on a model called the “pure relationship;” (3) provoke the thought of an emotional democracy. To accomplish these goals, Giddens introduces a concept of a transition from traditional (fundamental) to modern (cosmopolitan) families and personal lives that has changed and progressed linearly over time. The author points out that the biggest changes are happening in our personal lives: sexuality, emotional life, marriage, and the family. The author discusses controversial topics such as divorce, marriage, sexual equality, and gay marriage. Giddens compares and contrasts the roles of the husband, wife, and child that changed over time.
Giddens elaborates on an idea of a Global Revolution in family and marriage by illustrating his idea of a transition from traditionalism to modernity. The traditional and modern perspectives are virtually polar opposites. They are intrinsically similar to the ideas of a right and left wing in the media landscape. Traditionalism would be right wing, and modernity would be left wing. Giddens uses this concept of transition from traditionalism to modernity to effectively execute his concepts of a Global Revolution. Furthermore, the author discusses sex and the sexual relations between a man and a woman. He stipulates that in Medieval Europe, marriage was not forged on the basis of sexual love. A French historian, Georges Duby says, marriage in the middle ages did not involve frivolity, passion, or fantasy. The idea of sexual love and intimacy being the basis of marriage was virtually unheard of in Europe. In the traditional family, sexuality was dominated by reproduction. Fertility was the main basis and purpose for women. In many of the traditional cultures, including in Western Europe up to the twentieth century, woman might have ten or more pregnancies during the course of her life. Firstly, traditionalism is an archaic way to perceive the family and personal life. Giddens explains that before the 1950s, people overwhelmingly, adhered to traditionalist beliefs; however, sexual equality was significantly better than a century before this point in time. Traditional social norms were based on an agrarian lifestyle. Having children was interpreted as an economic benefit. Children meant more hands to assist the agricultural production for the family. The family was seen as an economic unit. Furthermore, the wife was seen as part of a man’s chattel (personal property); this indicates the wife was the husband’s property by law. Women and children did not share the same cultural privileges as their male counterparts. And the idea of sexuality was dominated by the idea of reproduction. Sexual promiscuity was acceptable for men, traditionally. Also, homosexuality was interpreted as unnatural. Traditionally, the married couple served as the nucleus of the family and hinged on the marriage. Traditionalism was very influenced by religious and fundamental values. Today standards of behaviors are constantly conflicted with the ideas of traditionalism. During the 1950s, the amount of women in the workplace was still low, and it was still very difficult for women to obtain divorce without stigma. But sexual equality was considerably better than it had been in previous times. Giddens stipulates that the idea of romantic love as basis for marriage replaced the idea of marriage being based on an economic contract. Both parents lived...
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