The Sociological Approach to Human Sexuality
Kathleen McKinney Oklahoma State University
The purpose of this chapter is to describe and illustrate the sociological approach to human sexuality. No attempt is made to review all the relevant literature. Rather, this chapter consists of a discussion of what constitutes a sociological approach in the area of human sexuality. In the discussion, selected opinions, theories, and examples of research by sociologists are cited.
To the extent that disciplines frequently overlap, the boundaries of the sociological perspective are somewhat ambiguous. Some sociologists consider both the learning and cross-cultural approaches to be a part of, or at least related to, the sociological viewpoint. However, because there are individual chapters on these two approaches in this volume, they are not stressed here. Furthermore, because I am a sociological social psychologist, who sees social psychology as a part of sociology, consideration of a social psychological approach is included.
This chapter, then, attempts to answer three questions: What is a sociological approach to human sexuality?; What problems exist with the sociological approach?; Where do we go from here?
There are several ways to answer the question of what constitutes a sociological approach to human sexuality. Basically, the issue focuses on how scientific disciplines differ or what defines a discipline. There are at least three ways in