9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN23 Sexuality

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Sexual Citizenship Building I, 1E8

The Changing Landscape of Heteronormativity: the regulation of intimate citizenship in Europe

A number of sociologists have argued that recent years have seen significant transformations in the organization and regulation of same-sex sexualities. For instance, as early as a decade ago Bech (1999) suggested that the modern homosexual was disappearing, Seidman, Meeks and Traschen (1999) explored the normalization of homosexual lives, and Roseneil (2000) argued that the homosexual/ heterosexual dichotomy was being radically destabilized. Recognizing that the research on which such arguments rested was based on north-western Europe and north America, we take up the challenge to develop a comparative analysis of the contemporary landscape of heteronormativity across Europe. Our particular focus is on the ways in which heternormativity is at work in the regulation of intimate citizenship, and how this has, and has not, changed. Our analysis is directed at the legal and policy frameworks regulating intimate citizenship in four European countries (Bulgaria, Norway, Portugal and the UK), selected according to a ?most different? comparative methodology in terms of gender and welfare regimes. We address the assumptions embedded, explicitly and implicitly, in social policies and law about the nature of ?proper?, recognizable intimate relationships and about what constitutes "family", and we explore the extent to which procreative, conjugal, married, or at least, cohabiting, monogamous heterosexuality is the normative framework for intimate citizenship. The paper offers some pointers towards an explanation of the factors producing differential transformations in heteronormativity across the case study countries. The research presented draws on work carried at as part of the "Intimate Citizenship" work package of the EU FP6 integrated project, FEMCIT, Gendered Citizenship in Multicultural Europe.