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The Social Construction of Lesbianism

The Social Construction of Lesbianism

February 1988 | 240 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Recipient of the 1989 Distinguished Publication Award from the Association of Women in Psychology.

The debate within research on homosexuality is between the "pathological" and the "gay affirmative" schools. This controversial book stands outside that debate and argues for a radical homosexual approach. Its central point is that gay affirmative research, far from being a liberating force, represents a new development in the oppression of women in general and lesbians in particular. The Social Construction of Lesbianism stands alone in the field of research on homosexuality. It does, however, extend and complement the growing literature on social constructionism and the sociology of science. Essential reading for all feminists and all scholars interested in the social construction of social science.

"A brilliant book! Should be required reading for anyone writing in the social sciences."

--Barbara Katz Rothman, City University of New York

"There have been relatively few studies of lesbian women in the social sciences, none of them like Celia Kitzinger's. Her book is fascinating, challenging, and controversial. The bibliography is broad-ranging and thorough."


"It is both a scholarly and empirically substantial study which will make an important contribution to existing debates within social construction theory."

--Times Higher Education Supplement

"This is an insightful, perceptive, and informed account of how science has been used to dissolve the political meaning of lesbianism through the use of ''gay affirmative lifestyle'' research. . . . The Social Construction of Lesbianism is an excellent foundation for generating new and important questions."

--Sex Roles

"An excellent example of feminist writing, primarily from France, England and Canada, that attempts to identify and to deconstruct the liberal humanistic ideology that is so pervasive throughout the social sciences, particularly in sex and gender research. . . . A passionate, well-documented, brilliantly developed book, highly recommended for all lesbians and other members with minority or nonminority affiliations. Kitzinger clearly presents how the construction of social norms and values is manipulated to preserve and protect the dominant culture."


"Dr. Kitzinger makes an excellent job of presenting the pros and cons of both liberal humanist and radical feminist approaches. . . . It will have you thinking about these issues long after the book has been put down, and discussing it with your friends. It will then have achieved much of its purpose."

--British Journal of Guidance and Counselling

"Provides important new insights and analyses that alert us to the dangers of liberal humanism--a timely warning."

--Helen Lenskyi, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

"Kitzinger's analysis of the differences between radical and liberal feminism is clear and should be required reading for feminists unfamiliar with these distinctions. . . . Taken as a whole, this combined analysis of the political roles of research together with a thoughtful research contribution adds to our understanding of the real politik of science. . . . The book has an exceptionally comprehensive bibliography which will introduce the novice to the sociology of science field. I do recommend this interesting book highly."

--Archives of Sexual Behavior

"This book is required reading for people interested in homosexuality, the relation of identity to ideology, the politics of science, and feminist theory. Kitzinger's focus on ''accounts'' of lesbianism rather than lesbianism as an essential form of identity makes it relevant for students of ethics as well."


Rhetoric in Research on Lesbianism and Male Homosexuality
Social Scientific Accounts
Eliciting and Assessing Lesbian Accounts
Lesbian Identities
Lesbian Politics
The Social Construction of Prejudice
The Future for Research on Lesbianism

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ISBN: 9780803981164

ISBN: 9780803981171