Late capitalism and sexual culture – the project plan

This research project is an extension of my research on asexuality, particularly the notion of the sexual assumption this had led me to. I take this to be the habitual cognitive category which, as an empirical claim, asexual individuals regularly encounter in the dispositional reactions and the reflective judgements of peers, friends, family and others. The sexual assumption holds that sexual attraction is both universal and uniform: everyone ‘has’ it and it’s largely the same thing in every instance.

Does it just impact on asexuals? No, I don’t think so. I want to try and do secondary analysis on qualitative data about sexual experience and sexual anxiety in these terms. I also don’t think it’s universal. It has a history of emergence and I want to understand what that history is.

My underlying hypothesis is that increased visibility and publicity of sexuality created a discursive vacuum which emerging sexological discourses (in an uneasy concordance with politicised discourses emerging from the new social movements) filled. This was a process mediated by the proliferation of a mass market for cultural products pertaining to sex & intensified by the structural pressures created by the shift to a consumption-driven economy (rise of sexualised advertising being the obvious one, suspect others though). Some of these were problematic to begin with. All the more so when they subsequently lost whatever scientific context they had in the first place.

These are my research questions for the project:

    1. How does the 1949 Mass-Observation ‘Little Kinsey’ sex survey compare with available contemporary survey & interview data?
    2. What shifts in the underlying conceptual architecture of the most influential sexological texts can be identified on a decade-by-decade basis?
    3. What shifts in the underlying conceptual architecture of the most influential popular books on sex & sexuality can be identified on a decade-by-decade basis?
    4. How do the conceptual trends identifiable in academic and lay discourse help explain the experiential transition found in comparison of Little Kinsey and contemporary data.

The research is intended to be qualitative (discourse analysis) and quantitative (corpus analysis) assuming I can work out how to compile the corpus in a way that is suitable for the latter.

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