The World We Have Won.

Author:Carrigan, Mark
Position:Book review

The World We Have Won

Jeffrey Weeks

(2007) Routledge

269 Pages

UK 23.99 [pounds sterling] US $43.92


We approach the end of this first decade of the 21st century as inhabitants of a world that seems ever more open and ambiguous. On all sides we face a bewildering array of choices about what to do, how to live and who to be. It is a world--argues Jeffrey Weeks--that we have won; a world that's been changed, seemingly irrevocably, through the decline of traditional authorities and the growth of new technologies. While economic restructuring and globalizing forces present new challenges and new hardships, they also seem to offer new opportunities and new rewards, albeit in a chronically uneven fashion. The World We Have Won is an attempt to make sense of these changes and to understand how their plural roots extend deep into the social ferment of the post-war 20th century. Weeks, a renowned historical and sociological commentator on human sexuality tells a story of consistent liberalization, secularization and growing agency. Our decisions about intimacy, sexuality and eroticism, so long confined to the private sphere under the lop-sided remit of a liberalism that long seemed to fail to live up to its promise of personal liberty, have moved to the forefront of the public consciousness as personal narratives and the questions posed by them proliferate around us (Plummer 1995). Others have written on these changes and what they mean (Bauman 2001, 2008; Beck & Beck-Gernsheim 2002; Giddens 1990, 1991, 1992) but rarely with such a deep grounding in the historical study of sexuality and the changing socio-political realities surrounding it. In telling the story of the "long, convoluted, messy, unfinished but profound revolution" (Weeks, 2007, p. 3) taking place in our intimate lives, Weeks attempts to understand the changes wrought in terms of wider political, economic and cultural processes of social restructuring. The World We Have Won is a deeply valuable contribution to ongoing academic debates in these areas, as well as a telling account of how we've come to this point and a potent treatise on where we might go from here.

The book is intended to be a "balance sheet of the changes" that have occurred in how we live our sexual, intimate and erotic lives (Weeks, 2007, p. 3). It's consciously offered against cultural pessimists of both left and right who see in these changes only decline and loss, as well as the sort of...

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