Sexual Stigma: An Interactionist Account

Sexual Stigma: An Interactionist Account

Sexual Stigma: An Interactionist Account

Sexual Stigma: An Interactionist Account

Excerpt

Sociologists have failed to study a most important aspect of human social conduct: that of sexuality. Given the prolific outpouring of popular materials on this subject, and given too the folklore that sociologists are men paid thousands of pounds to find their way to the nearest whorehouse, it is a surprise to discover that few sociologists have shown any interest in this field.

The main roads to a knowledge of sexuality lie in the work of Freud, Kinsey and Masters -- there were few students before them, and most subsequent work bears the imprint of one or other. Yet although they were not immune from social explanation, they were not sociologists. Freud's interest rested with the innermost emotional development of individuals, Kinsey's lay with the taxonomic classification of behavioural variations, and Masters was engrossed in problems of physiology -- a clinician, a zoologist and a gynaecologist respectively.

Those few 'sociologists' who have explored sexuality have done so from viewpoints divorced from sociology. Thus, the pioneer works of Westermarck, Malinowski and Sumner roamed so far from home shores to merit the label 'anthropological', while the work of W. I. Thomas on gender variation roamed so far from the sociological perspective to merit the label 'psychological'. Likewise, the work of men like Marcuse and Reich must be seen as essentially metatheoretical excursions, and at the other extreme, the studies conducted by Schofield, Gorer, Dickinson and others must be seen as social surveys and not sociology. These latter studies of social book-keeping -- of who does what with whom, how often and where -- are the ones most frequently tagged 'sociology': but their authors have rarely been sociologists interested in theory and working in sociological contexts. Dickinson was a medical man, Davis a social worker, Hamilton a psychoanalyst, and Bromley and Britten were . . .

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