Ordinary Lives, Vital Relationships: Same-Sex Marriage in Context
In this chapter we consider some of the international, socio-historical and political contexts that are the backdrop to new generational claims about the ordinariness of same-sex relationships and marriages. Our aim is to situate these claims, and the relating practices they involve, in terms of developments in heterosexual and non-heterosexual cultures, in terms of political and academic debates about the significance of marriage, and in terms of the methodological approach of the study that generated these claims and accounts of practice. The chapter begins by situating same-sex marriages with respect to the diverse meanings and practices associated with relationships and marriages more generally today. It then considers developments in same-sex relational worlds that have facilitated a shift from being ‘other’ to ‘ordinary’ in some contexts, and links this to developments in heterosexual relationships and marriage. Both sets of developments can be linked to processes of social change that have been variously conceptualised as postmodernisation, individualisation or neo-liberalisation. However, rather than following the sociological scripts suggested by any of these frames, we highlight the important point that stems from these as far as our analysis is concerned: that relationships and marriages, both same-sex and heterosexual, have become intensely vitalised. This links to our approach to analysing the experiences discussed in the book, which is loosely based on interactionist ideas about how ways of doing – or scripting – relationships emerge through interaction.