The History of 10%: Social Science Measures and the Construction of Gay Identities

The History of 10%: Social Science Measures and the Construction of Gay Identities

Wendy Espeland
Séminaire scientifique de l'OSC - Jeudi 9 avril 2015
  • Photo : Niharb, Gay Pride Parade 1 (Montreal) - CC BY-NC-NDPhoto : Niharb, Gay Pride Parade 1 (Montreal) - CC BY-NC-ND

 

The History of 10%: Social Science Measures and the Construction of Gay Identities
Wendy Espeland, Professor, Departement of Sociology, Northwestern University (Chicago)

Séminaire scientifique de l'OSC, Jeudi 9 avril 2015, 12h30 - 14h30

98, rue de l'Université - 75007 Paris - Salle Georges Lavau

[Sur inscription : bernard.corminboeuf(at)sciencespo.fr]


We investigate the political and social legacies of 10% and other measures of homosexual sex.
Our central claim is that in their efforts to measure sexual behavior, social scientists played a crucial role in the development of the modern gay rights movement and gay identity politics. Measures of sexual practice and people's critiques and interpretations of these measures shaped how participants in an emerging gay political movement understood themselves, how and when they organized, and the political strategies they and their opponents adopted. During the 1950s in the U.Ss. (and in many other countries, homoeroticism was understood primarily as a sin, a sickness or a crime, as a problem of deviance individuals or for homosexuals, a  personal problem, not the basis for politics. Discrediting this view and replacing it with one in which homosexuals were understood as a distinctive community and oppressed minority group was a long, contentious process. Measures of the prevalence and distribution of sexual behavior that social scientists provided were critical in this cognitive transformation.

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