The theme of this book is ‘sexual cultures’. The plural form is central to the argument of each of the essays in this volume. The underlying assumption of all the contributors is that sexuality takes many forms, is patterned in a variety of different ways and, moreover, cannot be understood outside the context in which it is enacted, conceptualised and reacted to. The subtitle of the volume, ‘Communities, Values and Intimacy’, underlines a more specific focus. Sexualities today are lived in a variety of communities of identity, of interest and of politics. They express and delineate a plurality of values. But in all sorts of ways they relate to the question of intimacy. In the English language, at least, the term ‘intimacy’ tends to indicate a link with the sexual. But the question of intimacy has also become the focus of much recent speculation and theorisation within broader fields of sociology (Giddens, 1992). Sexuality is not necessarily co-existent with the intimate; nor does intimacy always connote the sexual. Yet modern forms of intimacy tend inevitably to throw up significant questions about sexual belonging, ethics and choice. So although for the sake of convenience this book is divided into sections, with their own titles, these themes, summed up in terms of community, values and intimacy, are reflected in all the contributions.
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