Sexuality in Families: The (Re-) Creation of Sexual Culture

  • Katherine A. Kuvalanka
  • Judith L. Weiner
  • Stephen T. Russell


Family is the context in which meanings of sexuality are initially learned: our understandings of sexuality, as well as our attitudes and values about sexuality, are influenced by our familial experiences in childhood and across the life course. Likewise, our understandings of “family” are grounded in our ideas and beliefs about sexuality. Thus, sexuality is basic to family life; it is a multifaceted concept with intra-psychic, interpersonal, and socio-cultural meanings rooted in family. In this chapter, we review social science literature on sexuality in family life, considering the ways that sexual culture gets created and re-created in families across generations. A family life course perspective provides a guide for understanding the sexual socialization of children, adolescents, and adults in multiple family contexts. We give explicit attention to gender, culture, class, and race in our synthesis of prior work, and consider social learning theory, symbolic interaction, and queer theory as important contributors in recent decades to understanding sexuality in families. Our goal is to describe a “positive” vision of sexuality for families—a “sex education” that embraces sexuality as a natural, healthy dimension of personal development and family relationships across the life span.


Sexual Desire Sexual Identity Sexual Attitude Social Learning Theory Sexual Script 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Katherine R. Allen who generously provided helpful feedback on an early outline of this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York  2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine A. Kuvalanka
    • 1
  • Judith L. Weiner
    • 2
  • Stephen T. Russell
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Family Studies and Social WorkMiami UniversityOxfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of CommunicationMiami UniversityOxfordUSA
  3. 3.Department of Family Studies and Human Development, Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth, and FamiliesThe University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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