Puting the Interaction back into Sex
women's studies/sociology university of york york, uk
pro vice chancellor glasgow caledonian university glasgow, UK
In this paper we seek to recover and rehabilitate the radical insights of the pragmatist/interactionist tradition and to establish its continued relevance to a distinctively sociological and feminist analysis of sexuality. It was this tradition which informed the first fully sociological theory of sexuality, developed by John Gagnon and William Simon in the late 1960s and early 70s. Their approach was truly radical, challenging not only biological determinism, but also the concept of repression. Their argument presaged Foucault's critique of the repressive hypothesis, but subsequently came to be eclipsed by it with the rise of poststructuralist and queer theory. Interactionism, we argue, enables us to address aspects of sexuality largely sidelined by queer: the everyday gendered and embodied doing of sexuality in interaction. It thus enables us to locate sexuality within wider patterns of sociality. We explore the example of gendered orgasm in order to develop the idea of scripting/composing the sexual body.