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“The Sociologist as Voyeur”: Social Theory and Sexuality Research, 1910–1978

Abstract

Sociology has a long history of social theory and ethnographic research in the area of sexuality. Although it has been largely overlooked, this body of work prefigures later advances by social constructionists and queer theorists. This article reviews some of the early theoretical and empirical contributions to the sociology of sexuality, organized into five broad themes: the denaturalization of sexuality and its origins; the historicization of sexuality; the analytic shift from “deviants” to “deviance”/margins to center; the destabilization of sexual categories and identities and emphasis on the fluid and diverse meanings of sexual acts; and the theorization of sexuality and gender as performance. This article suggests that sexual stigma may contribute to the marginalization of sexuality studies in sociology.

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Irvine, J.M. “The Sociologist as Voyeur”: Social Theory and Sexuality Research, 1910–1978. Qualitative Sociology 26, 429–456 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:QUAS.0000005051.10012.b0

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1023/B:QUAS.0000005051.10012.b0

  • sexuality studies
  • history of sociology
  • queer theory
  • symbolic interactionism
  • dramaturgy
  • stigma