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Sexuality Research: Ethics

Moira Carmody

Subject Sociology » Methods in Sociology, Sociology of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Sexuality research and sex research differ in a number of important ways. Sex research focuses on the mechanics of sex and is dominated by biomedical discourses and most often framed from an “objective” stance. Sexuality research, on the other hand, recognizes power relations between women and men, between heterosexual and homosexual, and between cultures, and therefore is inherently political (Connell & Dowsett 1993). Sexuality and the research of sexuality are embedded in cultural and historical contexts. Both are embodied experiences that consider the complex dynamic meanings and activities, cultural signs, politics, and ethics that impact on its realization or repression. Power relations are embedded in every aspect of sexuality research. As Denzin in The Research Act (1989) has argued, when sociologists do research they inevitably take sides for or against particular values, political bodies, and society at large. This argument includes sexuality researchers, who focus on the most intimate aspects of people's lives. Within the divergent research traditions of sociology there are a number of approaches that reflect particular forms of knowledge about sexuality and ethics. These include functionalists such as Talcott Parsons, symbolic interactionists such as Gagnon and Simon, and Plummer, feminist theorists as diverse as Dworkin and Rubin, masculinity theorists such as ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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