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SOC 20818 - The Sociology of Sexuality

When people think about sexuality, they often adopt a biological view-seeing sexuality as "driven" by hormones and nature. This course adopts a different approach by viewing sexuality through the lens of sociology-as shaped by social processes, including social interaction, institutions, and ideologies. The course will focus on examining three sociological aspects of sexuality: 1) The social, historical, and cultural factors that shape sexual behaviors, desires, identities, and communities; 2) The ways in which sex and sexuality are constantly regulated and contested at multiple levels of society, including within families, schools, workplaces, and religious and political institutions; and 3) The sources, causes, and effects of sexual inequality. While our focus will be on sexuality, we will also study how other identities (including gender, race, class, religion, etc.) influence and affect it. Students will be encouraged to question their taken-for-granted assumptions about sex and sexualities and to formulate critical perspectives on issues pertaining to sexuality in today's public discourses. This course is sex-positive in that it assumes that knowledge about sexuality is empowering, not dangerous. The readings and discussions will be frank, and students will be assisted in developing a language for and comfort level with discussing a wide range of sexual topics in a respectful and sociological way. In the process, students will be challenged to improve their critical thinking, researching, writing, and public speaking skills.
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