In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Gendered Sexuality

  • Introduction
  • Journals
  • LGBTQ Desires
  • Sexual Consumption and Medicalization

Sociology Gendered Sexuality
Shelly Ronen
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 April 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0254


Sexuality encompasses diverse sexual practices including sexual behaviors, their sequencing, meanings, effects, pleasures, and risks, sexual identities, preferences or orientations, and the social construction of sexual acts and communities over history. Sexuality is undeniably shaped by gender as an individual, interpersonal, and institutional force. It is also shaped by intersecting axes of difference including class, race, ethnicity, age, and body morphology or disability status. These are in turn also affected by sexuality. The study of gendered sexuality has been an interdisciplinary undertaking. The sociological field incorporates insights from anthropology, feminist philosophy, gender and women’s studies, history, LGBTQIA+ studies, cultural studies, media studies, psychology, and queer studies. Early sociology failed to recognize sexuality as a domain of social study, so the subject only gained relevance in sociology in the second half of the 20th century. Touchstone texts from the subfield’s formation often draw on non-sociological works as well as biological, medical, and psychoanalytic approaches. Newer advances in the study of sexuality were initially spurred by feminisms and activist-scholars from the lesbian, bisexual, and gay liberation movement. As such, alongside theoretical development and empirical study, some work in the discipline retains a normative approach, seeking to clarify and advance varying definitions of sexual liberation. Contemporary sociological research on sexuality focuses on resultant inequalities: whether between genders (mostly still conceived of as either men and women) between sexual orientations (mostly still understood as either straight or gay) or between different races or ethnicities. As such, sociological study on sexualities focuses on the collective consequences of sexuality as a varied and changing institutional and normative force.


The anthologies below include collections of essays that have become classics, collections that offer accessible overviews of important frameworks in sexualities studies, and collections that highlight relatively new sexual phenomena.

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