I am grateful for the comments of Carol Becker, Michele Bograd, Richard Chasin, Christine Gilman, Rachel Hare-Mustin, Judith Kates, Sallyann Roth, and Hilary Worthen on an earlier draft of this article. I also wish to acknowledge conversations over the years with William Kates, Victor Weingarten, and Hilary Worthen who have contributed to my perspectives on this topic.
The Discourses of Intimacy: Adding A Social Constructionist and Feminist View†
Version of Record online: 30 JUL 2004
Volume 30, Issue 3, pages 285–305, September 1991
How to Cite
WEINGARTEN, K. (1991), The Discourses of Intimacy: Adding A Social Constructionist and Feminist View. Family Process, 30: 285–305. doi: 10.1111/j.1545-5300.1991.00285.x
- Issue online: 30 JUL 2004
- Version of Record online: 30 JUL 2004
- Manuscript received December 7, 1990; Revised March 18, 1991; Accepted April 17, 1991
Though most people desire intimacy in their primary relationships, it is more elusive than not. I argue that people's assumptions about intimacy interfere with their creation of it. Using a social constructionist and feminist perspective, two prevailing discourses of intimacy that shape our ideas about intimacy are identified and critiqued. Both tend to direct attention away from an assessment of particular interactions to a global assessment of the capacity of an individual or a relationship to provide intimacy. An alternative is proposed in which intimacy is conceptualized as built up from single intimate or non-intimate interactions that can produce a variety of experiences, including connection and domination. My critique of the two discourses of intimacy rests fundamentally on the belief that they obscure crucial distinctions that a discourse of intimacy as meaning-making would reveal, in particular, that there are politics nestled in the heart of intimacy.