chapter  8
16 Pages

The psychologisation of intimate life

ByDaniel Nehring, Dylan Kerrigan

Our argument in this book responds to two strands of sociological debate. Most immediately, this book adds to sociological enquiry into popular psychology and the psychologisation of everyday life. In this context, it also touches upon debates about the social organisation of intimate life in contemporary Western societies. More specifically, our research in Trinidad offers an answer to the question of what role popular psychology may play in contemporary transformations of intimate life. Our answer to this question is of twofold import to sociology at large, alongside regional interest in Caribbean societies. First, it showcases the constitution of therapeutic experiences of intimacy at the intersection of global consumer culture and socioculturally localised institutional arrangements of family, marriage, love, and sex. Second, it offers an opportunity to revisit accounts of the individualisation and precarisation of intimate life (Bauman 2003; Beck & Beck-Gernsheim 1999; Elliott & Lemert 2006; Giddens 1992; Hochschild 2012) that have been widely influential in Western sociology across the past three decades. In this chapter, we organise our exploration of these themes through the concept of psychologisation so as to highlight the pervasive diffusion of psychological explanations of self and social relationships and the ways in which these explanations may structure experiences of intimate life. In this context, we return to the themes and questions with which we began this book (see chapter 1). Finally, we turn to broader concerns about popular psychology's capacity for empowerment and consider the respective implications of our research in Trinidad.