Sexuality and the Social Sciences-A French Survey on Sexual Behaviour

Article excerpt

Sexuality and the Social Sciences-A French Survey on Sexual Behaviour. Michel Bozon & Henri Leridon (Eds.). Brookfield, VT: Ashgate Publishing. 1996. 357 pp. ISBN 1-85521-820-8. $67.95 cloth.

This volume was first published in 1993 by the Institut National d'Etudes Demographiques (Paris) as issue Number 5 of the journal Population. It is a translation of the findings of the "Analyse de comportements sexuels en France" (ACSF), a research project designed by a multidisciplinary team of investigators with the objective of measuring the "prevalence of certain types of behaviour judged to present a risk in the context of the AIDS epidemic." A sample of 20,055 women and men aged 18-69 years was interviewed. Two questionnaires were developed. A "short" version was used with the entire sample. Based on specific information supplied during the first interview, 4,820 subjects were selected to answer questions in the "long" version. All data collection was carried out by phone interviews, rendering this survey unique in the history of sexuality surveys of nationally representative samples in Europe and North America.

If the reader's expectations of this book are to merely encounter data on the sexual behavior of the French, it will be a pleasant surprise to find that Sexuality and the Social Sciences is less a report than an incisive, comprehensive, and scholarly critique of sexuality research as a mode of inquiry. It begins with an overview of the paradigms of sexuality research employed throughout the history of sexology and proceeds with critical analyses of, among other topics, the reliability (truthfulness) of respondents' answers, the interviewing techniques utilized in studying sensitive topics such as sexuality, and the effect of the interviewer's age and gender, as well as the partner's presence during the interview. …