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Human Affairs  2010 

Disentangling Privacy and Intimacy: Intimate Citizenship, Private Boundaries and Public Transgressions

DOI: 10.2478/v10023-010-0004-1

Keywords: privacy, intimacy, transgression, transformation, liberalism

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Abstract:

Recent theorisations of transformations of intimacy—like Ken Plummer's (2003) Intimate Citizenship project—concentrate on social and cultural transformations that erode the containment of intimacy within the private sphere. They have less to say about the character of and oppositions to that erosion, and specifically how far the idea of the private stands in opposition to intimacy transgressing into the public. In this essay, the private is explored through its constitutive features—liberal codifications of rights, liberty and property, medico-moral discourses and conservative values and legal and political regulation—to give a more political and critical reading. This reading suggests that an explicit disentangling of the private and the intimate is necessary if tendencies toward public and emancipated intimacies are to become meaningful transformations, and this involves a dissembling of and critical engagement with the powerful historically entrenched idea of privacy in western societies.

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