Generally speaking all spheres of human life in all kinds of societies big or small, strong or weak, rich or poor have witnessed significant changes especially during the twentieth century. These changes have been attributed by many to the phenomenal technological advancements of an industrialized world made by human societies. The social spheres of the human life have not been exempted and specifically human relationships have been greatly impacted (positively as well as negatively) upon by these changes be they ideological or technological. So that during this age of globalization peoples attitudes and beliefs about love, sexuality, marriage, friendship, gender among other social issues have considerably changed.
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This paper attempts to look at what is happening in the human relationships as a result of the impacts of the new ideas. In doing so we shall briefly look at what human relationships are and then explore a number of experts’ opinions on the effects of those changes upon human interactions.
What Are Human Relationships?
According to Ryecroft and Moxon, Human relationships can be defined as interactions that take place between and among individual human beings on the basis of a bond of closeness (1). He further adds that the term closeness here refers to ‘emotional investment’ made by an individual in someone else. It is important to note that the permanency of a relationship varies from one case to another.
This fact has seen scholars tend to classify relationships as either primary or secondary. For example Reber (as cited in Ryecroft 1) argues that primary relationships are basic, lasts long and are built upon firm emotional bonds. On the other hand, secondary relationships he argues are short term and unlike in the primary relationship a person in a secondary relationship can easily replace another in a relationship.
What is and what has been happening in our Relationships?
According to (sent materials) even though the most significant change that have occurred in the modern world have to do with peoples attitudes towards sex and sexuality, there have been noticeable changes in peoples attitudes and beliefs regarding sexuality,gender,marriage,family,children,love,success and friendship. Williams and Stein (1) asserts that we living in an age in which society is experiencing profound changes concerning sexuality. So that what the society used to consider as sexually acceptable and rational is undergoing noticeable changes. Different scholars ad thinkers of diverse academic backgrounds have tended to have differing interpretations of these changes as well as different opinions of what societies and individuals ought to know and do in order to maintain healthy and objectively beneficial relationships.
For example, Fromm (as cited in the sent materials) has argued that real love involves faithfulness and offering oneself to the happiness and satisfaction of your partner. Russell (as cited in the sent materials) suggests that peoples understanding of what is wrong or right sexually ought to be changed so that they can be in a position to extricate themselves from nonworking and unfulfilling relationships. Jordan (as cited in the sent materials) has urged women to entrench their places in the society irrespective societal expectations for them to live in accordance to norms of certain social and political groupings. Mohr (as cited in the same source) cohorts us to rethink our beliefs regarding homosexuality.
Chapkis as cited in the Williams and Stein argues that women desires ought to be remade outside the norms of the contemporary way of life (210). What clearly emerges from radical feminists the likes of Chapkis and Jordans is that women should stand up and fearlessly and shamelessly fight for their dignity and integrity in a world that has always been dominated by men. They should at all costs resist the shame of being seen as objects of sexual satisfaction as that only serves to entrench the male dominance. And it is this male dominance coupled with male chauvinism that sanctions the abuse women’s rights in both Judeo-Christian as well as Islamic cultures.Trothen (1) explains that violence against women is not a new thing and that it is the cultures that we embrace and participate that approves violence against women.
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Another aspect of human relationships that have experienced transformation is family relationship (within and without). According to Kellan and Parke (2) changes such as employment of women and for that matter mothers, increased use of house helps for kids and a high rate of divorce have all worked to change the family’s relationship with other societal institution. On basis of this argument it is safe to suppose that those changes have had a far reaching impact upon individual family members’ relations. Think for instance about the negative impacts that a divorce tends to have upon the innocent kids as well as the divorcing partners. On the side of the children when divorce occurs they loose the love, care and support of one of their parents. They also incur the pain of witnessing the breakup of once a happy and peaceful marriage. While on the side of the breaking partners a divorce comes with pain of the emotional breakup between someone once loved and highly treasured who all over sudden life circumstances makes enemy so to speak.
Apart from divorce, the increasingly new trends of using daycare for our children have also had an impact upon relationships within and without the family circles. So that at the end of the day a prolonged absence of the parents from their children may end up creating an emotional gap between them (Duck 30). In addition, the children may end up acquiring the wrong values from the trusted day care or even other people. In the long run, changing their ethical beliefs and perceptions and bridging the gap created may end up being expensive in various aspects-financially, emotionally and otherwise.
But someone may wonder how can parents in the modern capitalist world maintain their families without working? It is obvious we need finances so that we can maintain our families in terms of feeding them well, educating our children in good schools, entertaining them as well as laying a firm life foundation for them by way of creating wealth that guarantees our children a comfortable and happy future. But as we strive to achieve all these it is imperative that we strike a balance between our families especially spouses and children and our jobs. We should therefore acquire and nurture skills on how to manage time which is our greatest resource so that we may have time for our families and thereby minimize the chances of creating artificial emotional gaps between us and family members and also between our families and other societal institutions which inevitably contributes to the wellbeing of our families and ourselves.
Other facets of human relationships that have witnessed change are people’s perceptions, attitudes and beliefs about friendship, love and success (Rahman and Jackson 64). Love can simply be defined as the strong feeling of attachment that an individual tends to have for someone else whom they could be related to by blood or other ties like marriage. Fromm (as cited in the sent materials) has differentiated between erotic love and brotherly love. He argues that ‘brotherly love is love among equals’ and that if erotic love which is usually the basis of our marriage unions is not fit to be referred to as brotherly then it can never lead to any meaningful union between two marriage partners.Fromm further asserts that since we are equal by virtue of being descendants of Adam and Eve, it should not matter whom we love. And that love should be understood as an act of free will and of voluntary purpose to commit our lives to that of the other person.
For Fromm (as cited in the sent materials) nothing should hinder human beings from loving any member of the human race be it gender, race, religion or social status. After all “we are all part of one; we are one.” Fromm (as cited in the sent materials).However, the big question is whether that is what happens in the modern day world. A world in which individualism has misled most of us into seeking advantages at the expense of our friends and even partners. For example the media is usually full of news about people killing their partners as well as their blood children. One is left wondering what have happened to love.
To sum up, as the world changes technologically and otherwise, peoples perceptions, beliefs and attitudes with regard to various aspects of human interactions such love, friendship, gender, family and sexuality are bound to change. So that what used to be regarded as an abomination sexually may be viewed by individuals as a common acceptable practice. For example, societies are slowly but surely accepting the same sex marriages especially in the west and now Africa.
Duck, Steve..Human Relationships. London: SAGE, 2007.
Kellenberger, James.Moral Relativism, Moral Diversity and Human Relationships.Pennsylavania: Penn State Press, 2003.
Parke, Ross D and Kellam, Sheppard G.Exploring Family Relationships with Other Social Contexts. New York: RoutLedge, 1994.Print.
Rahman, Momin and Jackson, Stevie. Sexuality and Gender.Cambridge: Polity, 2010.
Ryecroft, Christina and Moxon, David. Human Relationships. London: Heinemann, 2001.
Stein, Arlene and Williams, Christine L.Sexuality and Gender. New York.Willey Blacwell, 2002.Print
Trothen, Tracy, J.Linking Sexuality and Gender: Naming Violence Against Women.Ontario: Laurier Univ Press, 2003.Print
NB: The materials sent by the client did not have full bibliographical information, for this reason information borrowed from those sources is noted (in brackets) within the text and he may be required to include in the works cited page.