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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 August, 2003, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
Home Alone
David, Victoria and Brooklyn Beckham
Are family men like David Beckham dying out?
BBC Radio 4's Analysis: Home Alone was broadcast on Thursday, 14 August, 2003 at 20:30 BST.

We live in an age in which we are encouraged to be more open about feelings and emotions, when society seems to have become more 'feminised' and when the chief male icon is caring family man David Beckham.

But it's also the age of Bridget Jones in which it seems harder than ever to find and to hold on to intimate relationships and where there is a greater fear about commitment.

Does this mean that there have been significant transformations in the ways in which people experience their personal relationships ?

Revelations and displays of personal feeling in the public spaces of the media for example - on the Oprah Winfrey, Jerry Springer or Kilroy shows - suggest one dimension of changing expressions of intimacy.

Another dimension, according to the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman is the emphasis, in modern Western societies, on 'networks', on 'being connected' rather than long-term commitments. In a network, connecting and disconnecting enjoy the same status so undesirable connections can be broken easily and quickly.

This is compounded by computer technology. Chat Rooms and Internet dating are hugely popular, offering the possibility of 'virtual relationships' at the expense of real ones and which can be deleted at the click of a button.

The result is a society made up of lonely people who are nevertheless searching for that one elusive intimate relationship. And one person households are on the increase: Surveys suggest that within twenty years at least 40 per cent of us will be living alone.

Kenan Malik examines the causes of singleton society and asks how it will affect us all.

Contributors include: the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, the communications expert Debora Cameron , Richard Scase, a leading business forecaster of socio-economic trends, Mary Evans, author of " Love- an unromantic discussion", and Mary Balfour who runs several dating agencies.

Presenter: Kenan Malik
Producer: Ingrid Hassler
Editor: Nicola Meyrick




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