Sociological Aspects of Homosexuality: A Comparative Study of Three Types of Homosexuals

By Michael Schofield | Go to book overview

10 SOCIOLOGICAL ASPECTS

A. THE SOCIAL SETTING

In any situation--homosexual or otherwise--there is the individual and his setting. Change either the individual or the setting and a different situation is produced. To study the personality of the homosexual is to study only a part of the situation.

The development of the homosexual condition and the form it takes may depend upon events in the early life of the individual; but it will also depend upon the attitude of society to that condition, and upon the social controls which may limit the condition, or may encourage it to develop in a particular direction. These propositions are true even for those who hold that the genesis of homosexuality is inborn; for those who believe that homosexuality is caused by early environmental influences or conditioning, the statements are selfevident.

So far the emphasis has been placed on changing the individual, and leaving society as it is. But the idea that the doctors can rid the world of homosexuality, as they hope to rid the world of smallpox, is a medical fantasy.

However, it may be that people have concentrated on changing the individual because altering the setting is too big a job. And so it is. There are numerous ways in which the social setting may play a part in the development of homosexuality. Urbanization, segregation of the sexes, earlier maturity due to better health standards, the difference between public attitudes and private actions, the breakdown of old-established taboos, changes in the structure of the family and many other factors can change the development of the homosexual condition. But all these things are basic structural components of society and it is unlikely that they can be changed without making fundamental alterations in the way we live.

One of the main objections to psychoanalysis is that it is difficult, and maybe dangerous, to break down and rebuild the personality of the individual. It is still more difficult and dangerous to break down and rebuild the social setting. Indeed most people would be against such a massive reorganization of this society, except possibly the followers of Marx who believe that social problems can only be solved after capitalist society has been radically transformed.

Not only would it be very difficult to make fundamental

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