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Does Monogamy Work? (The Big Idea)

Luke Brunning, Matthew Taylor


A thought-provoking exploration of monogamy's benefits and limitations, and a look at the merits of other relationship models

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Even with the current rise in awareness of sexual and intimate diversity, monogamous relationships remain the cultural norm. Most people aspire to it and the state encourages it, providing legal and financial benefits to married couples; however, statistics show adultery is commonplace, marriage rates are falling, and divorce figures are rising. Does Monogamy Work? – the twelfth book in The Big Idea series – traces the evolution and normalization of the monogamous ideal, questioning whether it is 'natural' or not, and surveying the spectrum of alternative relationship models that people are seeking out in a world of internet dating and scientific control over reproduction. It explores the emotional and psychological facets of ethical polyamorous relationships; questions whether these relationships benefit men disproportionately and whether they are compatible with raising children; and assesses the likelihood that diverse forms of multi-partner marriages and large friendship networks will become the norm in the future.

With over 150 colour images and incisive, engaging and authoritative text, this book examines society’s attachment to monogamy, evaluates its benefits and limitations, and asses the merits of polyamorous relationship models in our modern world.

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback with flaps

Size: 22.9 x 15.2 cm

Extent: 144 pp

Publication date: 27 August 2020

ISBN: 9780500295694

Contents List

Introduction • 1. The Origins of Monogamy • 2. Challenges to Monogamy • 3. Revisiting Monogamy • 4. Nonmonogamy: Problems and Possibilities • Conclusion

About the Author

Luke Brunning (PhD) is a philosopher whose research focuses on relationships, love, sexuality and emotions like jealousy and grief. He is currently a Lecturer in Ethics at the University of Birmingham, Department of Philosophy, and previously held a British Academy junior research fellowship at the University of Oxford. He has written widely for academic journals and trade publications, including the Independent and the Times Literary Supplement.

Matthew Taylor is Chief Executive of the RSA, a 250-year old British institution devoted to enriching society through ideas and action to deliver a 21st-century enlightenment. A writer, public speaker and broadcaster, he has written widely on policy, politics, public service reform and cultural theory, and frequently appears on Newsnight, The Daily Politics, and Radio 4’s Today and The Moral Maze. He was previously General Secretary and Chief Executive of the Institute for Public Policy Research, Britain’s leading think tank.

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