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Lecture 2

SOCI 2P20 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Social Constructionism, Inside Out Music, Social Conflict

Course Code
Melissa St Germaine- Small

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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
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 18th 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 19th 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
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
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