Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

John Gagnon, Sociologist Who Studied Sex

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

John Gagnon, Sociologist Who Studied Sex

Article excerpt

John Gagnon, a sociologist who shifted the ground in sex research by proposing that sexual behavior could be better understood by looking at social forces rather than biology or psychology, died on Feb. 11 at his home in Palm Springs, Calif. He was 84.

Mr. Gagnon began his career as a researcher at the Institute for Sex Research (now the Kinsey Institute) at Indiana University in the 1960s, and in the 1990s carried out a comprehensive survey of sexual behavior in the United States. He saw human sexuality as a social construct rather than a primal urge or fixed identity rooted in the psyche.

In "Sexual Conduct: The Social Sources of Human Sexuality," written with his fellow Kinsey researcher William Simon and published in 1973, and in the essays collected in "An Interpretation of Desire" from 2004, he explored the notion of sexual "scripts" written, so to speak, by political, economic and social forces, and sexual behavior as a kind of performance. …

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