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Distant Love [Hardcover]

Ulrich Beck , Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
RRP: £55.00
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Book Description

22 Nov 2013
Love and family life in the global age: grandparents in Salonika and their grandson in London speak together every evening via Skype. A U.S. citizen and her Swiss husband fret over large telephone bills and high travel costs. A European couple can finally have a baby with the help of an Indian surrogate mother. In their new book, Ulrich Beck and Elisabeth Beck–Gernsheim investigate all types of long–distance relationships, marriages and families that stretch across countries, continents and cultures. These long–distance relationships comprise so many different forms of what they call ‘world families’, by which they mean love and intimate relationships between individuals living in, or coming from, different countries or continents. In all their various forms these world families share one feature in common: they are the focal point in which different aspects of the globalized world become embodied in the personal lives of individuals. Whether they like it or not, lovers and relatives in these families find themselves confronting the world in the inner space of their own lives. The conflicts between the developed and developing worlds come to the surface in world families– they acquire faces and names, creating confusion, surprise, anger, joy, pleasure and pain at the heart of everyday life. This path–breaking book will appeal to a wide readership interested in the changing character of love in our times.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Polity Press; 1 edition (22 Nov 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745661807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745661803
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.5 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


′′Distant Love is a rich and provocative book, and continues the unique contributions made by its authors to the analysis of globalisation and the culture of late modernity. There are some very big ideas here, and the huge themes and issues are brought on from the wings to take a bow – this is from beginning to end an invitation to open up research into the plethora of issues and areas it brings into the light.′′ Les Gofton, Times Higher Education Supplement ′′The intimate and personal dimensions of globalization have not received as much attention as finance, environment, and conflict. They are also important, however, and exert a shaping influence on both individual lives and sociocultural change. It is a pleasure to see full–length attention from Beck and Beck–Gernsheim who bring both sociological insight and personal sensitivity to this timely account of Love at a Distance.′′ Craig Calhoun, Director, London School of Economics and Political Science ′′Just as there are global firms, so there are global families, the authors observe. A German man marries a Chinese woman. An American couple adopts a Guatemalan baby. A Korean farmer takes a Filipina mail order bride. A child is born of a Spanish ovum, a Danish sperm and an Indian womb. Do such families bring home conflicts between East and West, rich and poor nations, or are they pioneers in cosmopolitanism? In this wide–ranging book and original book, the authors explore a key truth Ð increasingly unfolding in our own living rooms.′′ Arlie Russell Hochschild, University of California at Berkely and author of The Outsourced Self and So How’s the Family? and other essays ′′This path–breaking overview of ‘distant love’ traces the ways globalization is embodied and interiorized within the domains of personal affect and desire. Beck and Beck– Gernsheim demonstrate that contemporary marriage, family, kinship and reproduction are not contained by national systems of law, state borders, or inequalities of wealth, power, gender, and racialization.′′ Nina Glick Schiller, University of Manchester  

About the Author

Ulrich Beck is one of the world′s leading sociologists and social thinkers, well–known for his bestselling book Risk Society . He is Emeritus Professor at the University of Munich and Professor of Sociology at the LSE. Elisabeth Beck–Gernsheim is Visiting Professor at the University of Trondheim. Her previous books include The Normal Chaos of Love (co–authored with Ulrich Beck).

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's OK 4 Aug 2014
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This academic text is very readable, apt for the layman amongst us, and dare I say “scholarly”. This was an odd comment in the book, somewhat aggrandising, and a potential embarrassment perhaps, particularly when the comment about polemicism was introduced in being critical of other writers, i.e Kelek. I thought this was a bit naughty, and was a view not really justified in the way it was posited. Qualitative observations are often more important than pure objective, scientific, comments.

The book collates different perspectives concerning the modern concept of world families, and is empirically evident for all if we attend to this idea. There is little new in this book that any intelligent person is unable to grasp from the media.

The concept of family has become a rather amorphous and nebulous concept, but this book does assimilate previous held theories against new and exciting developments in sociological thinking.

The authors highlight the extent to how globalisation and the Internet have made interesting comparisons of close and distant love, and the repercussions for either maintaining love at a distance, or the potential for its demise.

I particularly appreciated the many examples and case studies of multi cultural relationships that are maintained at distance, which brings the discourse together, and made easy sense of the text.

In terms of referencing, there is too much from previous books from the authors which I find unsettling, which doesn’t say much about peer review, hence a 3 star rating.
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Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As I was facing the prospect of someone I know having to conduct a long-term relationship across the hemispheres, I thought I should prepare myself with an academic framework for handling my concerns. Perhaps it might even offer some advice which I might be able to share without intruding into someone else's business.

And lo, within a few days of the book arriving, the situation had resolved itself. There is to be a wedding and the happy couple will come to live in England. And I hadn't even finished the book.

There is much here to stimulate reflection and this will no doubt open up this field of study. How much of the division in the world is caused by the stress of conducting relationships at distance and how can this be minimised?

One paragraph should be in front of all monotheistic faith leaders - "The juxtaposition of the world's religions and their interaction produce a multi-monotheistic entanglement in which the one and only God of other religions, the universalist aspirations of the different faiths, are brought into direct contact with one another. The potential for conflict and perhaps even violence is self-evident." And should be assumed and mitigated against.
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3.0 out of 5 stars distant love 24 July 2014
By Arthur Dooley VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Lecturers and authors, Ulrich Beck and Elisabeth Beck Gernsheim, offer an academic take on a social phenomenon which is certainly on the increase in recent years. That of long distance relationships. Given how brainwashed people are these days with regard to pursuing a career at all costs,even if the cost is their relationship with the family or partners, then it's certainly an opportune time to look at how some relationships can cope with that dislocation from the home structure.It will certainly be the case in the future,that more and more people will have no choice but to take on jobs which are away from the partners just to pay the sky high mortgages and living costs. The authors do not describe these people as 'mugs' although perhaps they should! Instead they offer more an empirical approach and as such, somewhat diminish the end product.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Distant Love 18 Aug 2014
By southcoastreviewer TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This was an unexpectedly academic book, for a subject matter that is usually treated in areas closer to the heart than to the brain. I have friends that are (very) successfully conducting a long-distance relationship - they live in different countries - and was intrigued therefore to see what this book had in store for their future, and what is considered the effects of such relationships to be.

There is a lot of thought-provoking matter in here, once you get past the conjecture and trifle. I didn't find this to be an easy read, but it was an interesting one. If you have any friends or family in a similar situation, you will find much to think on, and much to agree with, in this book.

An interesting, if not ground-breaking read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Globalizing the Personal 18 Sep 2014
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a considered and at times provocative study on what essentially constitutes a growing number of intimate and personal relationships in the 21st Century. While it deserves a broad and general readership, I suspect that the book's themes will only be of immediate interest to those studying the socio-political impact of globalization. It is one of very few books on the subject, is readily accessible and always thoughtful and nuanced. It provides 11 studies covering amongst them cultural misunderstanding, migrant mothers, baby tourism, transnational family networks and perhaps the most poignant a study on the pressures of distance and closeness on relationships. Recommended.
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