Getting it Together? Carnal and Romantic Discourses
This chapter draws on earlier discussions of the theoretical and methodological challenges of working empirically with an unmarked, yet pervasive social category. As Chapter 5 notes, our starting point was the question of how people made sense of their everyday heterosexual lives and what reflections might contribute to its stability and its openness to change. Interview and focus group data were therefore the material we chose to work with. What this chapter shows is how interviewees’ voices provide a route into understanding the living out of heterosexuality (see Meah et al., 2004). Chapter 5 discussed the discursive dimensions of the social, the way discourses resource the narratives, the representations and the language through which human beings reproduce, reflect upon and resist aspects of their everyday lives. Here we take up those narratives in order to demonstrate their scope for shedding light on these lives. We begin by focusing on what was said and how this might be interpreted. In so doing we pay attention to the limits of the sayable and in the second half of the chapter we discuss what could not be said — and its implications for developing our understanding of heterosexuality. What we argue is that heterosexual narratives can give clues as to the discourses which resource everyday heterosexual life and to the exclusionary narrative strategies which sustain heterosexuality as a residual category, one sustained through the silencing of that which it is not.
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