Contemporary society (often called late modern) is characterized by a critical reflection on traditional views towards partner relationships (e.g. Giddens 1999, Bauman 2003), parenthood (Silverstein 1996, Beck & Beck-Gernsheim 2004), and definitions of their relevance. Due to the ongoing processes of individualization and detraditionalization, the boundaries of what is viewed as acceptable in the area of intimacy have been shifting. This is related to weakening normativity as well as a change and loosening of the very concept of sexuality and of gender and sexual identities (Roseneil 2007, etc.).
A crucial aspect of intimacy is sexuality, in all its various shapes and colours, including bodily experiences and self-awareness; romantic or sexual relationships; and the organization of sex and sexuality in the private and public spheres, in institutions, or on a structural societal level. Not only gender but also age, ethnicity, nationality, economic status, religion, (dis)ability, and other individual or structural aspects and characteristics need to be taken into account when trying to understand the complexities of sexualities in today’s societies and individual lives.
Three dynamics within the realm of intimate, sexual, partner, and parental identities, interactions, and institutions are of significant interest. The first dynamic is represented by individualization and detraditionalization, but also diversification and temporality. Secondly, we can observe the constitution of new identities, communities, publics, and institutions as well as the transformation of those already existing (or previous). Here new concepts are being discussed — for example, sexual (e.g. Richardson 2018, Weeks 1998) or intimate citizenship (Plummer 2003), among others.
Thirdly, as a counter dynamic to this liberalization and innovation, a re-familialization, re-traditionalization, and construction of so-called traditional identities, values, social formations or institutions is gaining social and political relevance. This dynamic also brings about new phenomena such as homonationalism (e.g. Puhar 2007) or a wider anti-gender ideology movement (e.g. Paternotte and Kuhar 2017).