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SOCI 2P20 (10)
Lecture 2

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Melissa St Germaine- Small

SOCI 2P20 – Week 3 September 19, 2013 Social Constructionism - Four key forms of social constructionism for studying both gender and sexuality o Historicism  Social conflict and stability  Shifts in social structures such as work, family and the state  Highlight the contingency of social arrangements and identities  Meaning and organization of gender and sexuality vary over time in any given culture  Historical examinations of the construction of ‘sex’, problematize the assumed self-evidence of ‘male’ and ‘female’ as either ‘natural’ or ‘cultural’ categories  E.g. Thomas Lacqueur – 18 century medical illustrators – vagina as inverted penis  View of two distinct sexes emerged – supplanting a ‘one sex model’ with female as an inside-out variants on the male  Biological ‘difference’ then became the key site for the contestation of men’s and women’s relative social position  Lacqueur’s work illustrates how the meanings attributed to bodies have varied historically in crucially important ways  Challenge of intersex and need to assign to category  More extensive literature on the historical specificity of sexual desires and sexual identities  How categories such as ‘heterosexual’ and ‘homosexual’ have become central to the way we now understrand sexuality  Contests idea that people in past times inhabited sexual identities that more or less reflect contemporary ones  Challenged other certainties such as the connection between sexual desire, intimate attachment and romantic love  Field of ‘sexology’ in 19 centure – cataloging of sexual behaviours  Construction of sexual personages – homosexual as primary example  Foucault’s genealogical method – systematic unearthing of:  Sexuality’s shifting configurations and  Relations of power  Sexuality not an unchanging individual essence contingency upon historically specific frameworks of thought and practice  Sexual subjectivities and classifications have emerged within multidimensional processes:  The discursive  The impacts of social institutions (e.g. economic conditions, geographical mobility, changes in the structure of the family)  The person  Considerations of historical understanding SOCI 2P20 – Week 3 September 19, 2013  Might deduce th sexual behaviour of some who lived in the past  Cannot project contemporary notions of sexual identity back onto them  Identity is historically and culturally specific  Katz (2001) rejects ‘residual essentialism’ of a ‘natural’, universal sexual impulse below socially imposed labels and categories  Over time ‘the sexual’ as a sphere of action and affect changes shape; experiences of sexual d
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