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social sciences

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Sociology  
 
page: 1  2  3  4  

Finally, sociology is experiencing conflicts with other academic disciplines over the explanations of sexuality and gender. These conflicts are primarily, though not only, with biology and psychology.

Biological explanations for sexuality and gender focus on the idea that genetic structures set at conception, perhaps along with environmental features during pregnancy (such as maternal hormone levels or drug use) set sexuality and gender in stone at birth. These explanations would say that if someone comes to an understanding of a different gender or sexuality later in life, he or she is either wrong or until then has been suppressing his or her "true" self.

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Psychology, on the other hand, leaves some room for events that happen after birth to effect individuals' sexual and gender identities. Psychology, particularly its psychoanalytic branch, believes that the early childhood experiences, especially those in infancy, are important in shaping the gender and sexuality that an adult will later display. Traumatic events in later life can also cause changes in gender and sexuality.

These conflicts between disciplines are not only important in terms of drawing disciplinary boundaries but also have important effects for the real everyday lives of glbtq individuals and communities. For instance, if the biologists are right, then glbtq individuals could no longer be asked by conservative political and religious figures to change who they are. On the other hand, a genetic root to homosexuality could lead to genetic testing and selective abortion of fetuses carrying this gene.

Some glbtq people worry that if the sociological explanation for homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderedness is accepted, they will be held responsible for their genders and sexualities. The idea of social construction, however, does not mean that individuals "choose" to be glbtq (though it provides for the fact that some individuals could possibly make that choice). Instead, it means that biology and early childhood experiences are not destiny, and that the structure of society leaves room for changes in an individual's sexuality and gender throughout the life course.

Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur

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    Bibliography
   

Butler, Judith P. Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex." New York: Routledge, 1993.

_____. Gender Trouble (10th Anniversary Edition). New York: Routledge. 1999.

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality Volume One: An Introduction. New York: Vintage Books, 1990.

_____. The History of Sexuality Volume Two: The Use of Pleasure. New York: Vintage Books, 1990.

_____. The History of Sexuality Volume Three: Care of the Self. New York: Random House, 1998.

Holliday, Ruth. "We've Been Framed: Visualizing Methodology." The Sociological Review 48.4 (2001): 503-22.

Humphreys, Laud. Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public Places. New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1975.

_____. Out of the Closets: The Sociology of Homosexual Liberation. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, 1972.

Kinsey, Alfred Charles. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders, 1948.

Laumann, Edward O., et al. The Social Organization of Sexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.

Lemert, Charles. Sociology after the Crisis. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1995.

Ponse, Barbara. Identities in the Lesbian World: The Social Construction of Self. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1978.

Reinharz, Shulamit. Feminist Methods in Social Research. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Seidman, Steven, ed. Queer Theory/Sociology. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1996.

Stacey, Judith. In the Name of the Family: Rethinking Family Values in the Postmodern Age. Boston: Beacon Press, 1997.

Tierny, William G. Academic Outlaws: Queer Theory and Cultural Studies in the Academy. London: Sage Publications, 1997.

Weston, Kath. Long Slow Burn: Sexuality and Social Science. New York: Routledge, 1998.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Arthur, Mikaila Mariel Lemonik  
    Entry Title: Sociology  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated September 19, 2005  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/sociology.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

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