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  5. 2007

The World We Have Won: The Remaking of Erotic and Intimate Life

Publié le 20 septembre 2007 Mis à jour le 21 septembre 2023

20 septembre

Jeffrey Weeks
(London South Bank University) 


We live in a world of remarkable sexual change. Over the past half century, gathering pace since the 1980s, there has been a transformation in the ways we think of sexuality, gender, identity, heterosexuality and homosexuality, reproduction, the body, its pleasures and pains,  sexual health and sexual illness, marriage, family, intimacy, love, commitment, parenting, sexual rights, the role of the Church and state, and the significance of individual choice. There has been  a long, and in many ways partial and unfinished revolution. It has affected the rich ‘West’ more than the global South. It has had uneven and different effects on women and men, adults and children. Even in the richer parts of the globe, sharp differences remain between the cities and the country, the middle class and the working class, between different ethnic groups and religious communities, persist. There are limits to the changes than have taken place. But anyone who had fallen asleep in the 1950s and awoke today would be startled by the changes: from the sexualization of women to same sex marriage, from the decline of sexual censorship to cybersex. A culture of restraint and oppression has increasingly become a culture of pleasure and sexual choice. An authoritarian moral culture has been replaced by sexual pluralism. Not everyone is happy with this transformation of everyday sexual and intimate life. Some seek a new certainty in religious fundamentalisms, or a return to traditional values. But others find in this new world a challenge and an opportunity to live creative lives, in a world we have helped create for ourselves, a world we have won.

In this lecture Jeffrey Weeks will explore the main features of this transformed world, and look at the underlying reasons for the changes that have taken place. The lecture will cover new ways of thinking about sexuality, the impact of globalization, the reinvention of the self, the sexual transition, the intimate revolution, the role of science, the transformation of values and the movement towards sexual democracy.


Jeffrey Weeks is currently University Director of Research, Professor of Sociology and Director of SPUR: The Social Policy and Urban Regeneration Research Institute at London South Bank University. He has been a pioneering researcher and writer on the history and sociology of sexuality and intimate life. His first major study, Coming Out: Homosexual Politics in Britain from the 19th century to the Present, was originally published in 1977, and has remained in print ever since. Since then he has published over twenty books, and a hundred papers. Recent publications include Making Sexual History (2000), Same Sex Intimacies: Families of Choice and other Life Experiments  (with Brian Heaphy and Catherine Donovan, 2001), Sexualities and Society (with Janet Holland and Matthew Waites, 2003), and a new edition of  Sexuality (2003). His most recent book is The World We Have Won, published by Routledge in June 2007, which provides the theme for this lecture.