How the social shapes the sexual: the importance of biographical turning points to the making of sexual trajectories, in Portugal
PhD - Sociology Institute of Social Sciences Lisbon, Portugal
This paper presents some results from a PhD research about sexual biographies, in Portugal. Based on an interactive qualitative research design (Maxwell, 1995), this research approaches sexual experiences from a dynamic and narrative perspective. Through extended in-depth interviews, men and women, between 30 and 50 years old, are invited to narrate their sexual biographies, enabling the identification of important individual turning points, namely those of biographical disruption. Being moments of personal and biographical crisis, these turning points become privileged observatories of the ways the social shapes the sexual, and turn out to be determinant to the social construction and updating of sexual scripts (Gagnon & Simon, 1973). Therefore, and on the one hand, placing sexual experiences in their biographical context enables a better understanding of sex as a social fact, whose meaning, created by social interactions, plays a decisive role. On the other hand, it enables one to explore the diversity of sexual trajectories and the ways they become progressively part of each individual's personal identity, giving room to intimate orientations (Bozon, 2001 & 2004).