American Sociological Association
Home :: AM2015 :: Theme

Sexualities in the Social World

110th ASA Annual Meeting
August 22-25, 2015
Chicago, Illinois

Sex usually occurs in private and is seen as deeply personal, yet it is also profoundly social. Cultural norms and social institutions such as religion, education, mass media, law, and the military all affect what we do sexually with whom. These social forces also affect what is seen as beyond the bounds of legitimacy. Indeed, contemporary politics are full of contentious debates about abortion, sex education, same-sex marriage, pornography, sex work, sexual harassment, systematic rape as a weapon in wars, and female genital cutting. Given the importance of sexuality in people’s lives, and its relevance to many areas of sociology, I selected it as the theme for the 2015 annual meeting of the ASA. Let us gather to discuss a broad set of questions, including the following:

  • Why has there been more progress toward gender equality in education and jobs than in heterosexual relations, where men still typically propose marriage, and women are more stigmatized than men for casual sex?
  • How are race and class inequalities affected by marriage markets in which preferences and segregation steer us toward intimate relationships, and thus economic sharing, with partners similar to ourselves?
  • Why have nonmarital births increased for 50 years, as much in good economic times as in the hard times that make men less marriageable? 
  • To what extent is bias against gay men and lesbians really a bias against gender nonconformity?
  • Why has public opinion on gay marriage shifted so quickly?
  • Why do typical parents believe that their own children are sexually naïve but that other children are hypersexual?
  • How are notions of sexual propriety marshaled in social movements, anti-colonial revolutions, state formation, and ethnic cleansing? 
  • How are cultural schema about sexuality reflected in the design of consumer goods such as movies, music, clothing, and drugs for sexual performance?
  • Has concern about the dangers of sex kept researchers from studying sexual pleasure as a stratification outcome?
  • How do patterns of the transmission of HIV illuminate network principles? 
  • How do gene/environment interactions affect sexual behavior?
  • What new data collection do we need for research on sexualities?
  • What theoretical perspectives are most useful in making sense of sexuality?
  • Can studying sexuality inform general social theories?

Please join me at our annual meeting in Chicago in August 2015 where our sessions will feature a full range of sociological topics in addition to showcasing exciting new research on sexualities across many subfields.

Paula England, New York University
ASA President and Chair, 2015 Annual Meeting Program Committee