This proposed book is an anthology of both original and reprinted articles on sexuality from a sociological perspective. The readings in this collection focus on the diverse and multi-layered meanings of sexuality, sexual behaviors and sexual identities. The essays in this book will explore sexuality as a social process. As a whole, the book takes the perspective that what each of us understands to be sexual is constructed through everyday social processes and interaction, situated in particular spaces and moments, identified through our social-sexual presentations, and symbolized through language, objects and practices. The book is organized around these four distinct but interrelated processes, and augmented by personal narratives around relevant issues. The purpose of this book is to broaden students' perspectives on sexuality by providing them with a consistent framework to help them understand sexualities as social phenomena. The authors' goals for the book are: to engage students in the sociological enterprise by providing interesting and insightful entries that emphasize the importance of meaning-making in human sexuality, and to provide them with conceptual tools to understand human sexuality in a complex and quickly-changing sexual landscape.
The first section of the book, Theorizing Sex, describes, discusses, and illustrates various interactionist approaches to understanding sexuality. We intend these chapters to provide a foundation for thinking about sex from sociological, anthropological, and broader cultural perspectives. All of the chapters share a constructionist approach; that is, they view sex and sexuality as a product of our culture.
The idea of social construction moves away from the perspective that things are the way they are because “society makes it that way.” Social constructionism shifts the focus to the fact that the abstraction society is us; there is no society outside what its people say, do, create, and destroy. We are the agents of social construction. When we say things like, “society says ...