Revisions: Gender and Sexuality in Late Modernity

Revisions: Gender and Sexuality in Late Modernity

Revisions: Gender and Sexuality in Late Modernity

Revisions: Gender and Sexuality in Late Modernity

Synopsis

This book will become a critical text in feminist and social theory. It brings together recent sociology of late modernity, particularly sociologies of reflexivity, aesthetics and detraditionalization, with a consideration of transformations of identity, especially transformations of gender and sexual identities. It does so in relation to questions of cultural economy; debates over the role and place of reflexivity in the social sciences; recent controversies over the significance of commodity aesthetics in regard to questions of identity; and debates on the significance of risk for the organization of contemporary sexualities. In so doing it puts forward a distinctive thesis, namely that within late modernity gender and sexuality are being reworked in terms of categories of reflexivity and risk. It shows that this reworking places increasing significance on issues of mobility and identity in late modernity. It therefore outlines the politics of mobility in regard to identity, suggesting that mobility is an important but often neglected source of power in late modernity. Revisions: Gender and Sexuality in Late Modernity will be essential reading for advanced undergraduates, research students and academics working in the fields of feminist theory, social theory, sociology, women's studies and cultural studies.

Excerpt

The themes of movement, flexibility and mobility occupy centre stage in much recent social and cultural theory and more substantive work in the social sciences. To give just a few examples, we find reference for instance to mobile or ‘liquid modernity’ (Bauman 2000); flexible citizenship (Ong 1999); flexible bodies (Martin 1994, 1997, 2000); flexible accumulation (Harvey 1989); travelling cultures (Clifford 1992, 1997); mobile objects (Lury 1997); mobile desire (Adkins 2000a); and to ideas that ‘good’ research in the social sciences requires ‘flexible structure[s] of interpretation’ (Alvesson and Skoldberg 2000: 9, emphasis added). Indeed, we find arguments that the ‘social’ is now characterized by flows and mobilities and more particularly that the social is materially reconstructing from the ‘social as society’ to the ‘social as mobilities’ (Urry 2000: 2). As a consequence it is suggested that the discipline which held society as its key methodological focus – sociology – needs to reformulate its methods (Urry 2000: 18–19). Thus rather than on order, structure and stasis, sociology should focus on movement, mobility and contingency; and rather than on societies, sociologists should focus on the post societal flows and mobilities of images, information, knowledge, capital, money and people.

We can point towards a number of important grounds which suggest that this call for a reformulation of the methods of sociology makes sense. This is especially so in the context of the reconfigurations of timespace coordinates associated with globalizing processes, reconfigurations which Harvey (1989) has famously characterized as involving ‘time-space compression’. Literal increases in travel (evidenced in the huge expansion of international tourism), the (relatively) footloose nature of capital, the emergence of electronic communication networks which allow for speeded up and spatially stretched out flows and exchanges of capital, information and knowledge, as . . .

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