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Sexuality Research & Social Policy

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 39–62 | Cite as

Sexual development, social oppression, and local culture

  • Gilbert Herdt
Article

Abstract

This article reviews some of the factors that have created and reproduced intellectual, historical, political, and disciplinary barriers to understanding the contribution of social oppression as a force in the development of young people’s sexuality. Social oppression in sexual development is common in many places and times and creates an impact on childhood sexual subjectivities and behaviors that has typically been ignored in research and policy. I argue in this paper for the expansion of the study of childhood sexuality through biopsychosocial approaches that are more inclusive of cross-cultural and intra-cultural diversity and subjectivity. Finally, optimal sexual development is viewed here as being more dependent upon the environment than previously suggested by theorists, and such a revised view places increased emphasis upon the importance of sexual health research that will better inform and help to shape the best practices and policies related to sexuality.

Key words

social oppression sexual development sexual culture childhood sexuality local culture diversity inequality 

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© Springer 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Program in Human Sexuality StudiesSan Francisco State UniversitySan Francisco

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