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Telling times: exploring LGBTQ progress narratives in Brixton, South London.

Spruce, Emma (2017) Telling times: exploring LGBTQ progress narratives in Brixton, South London. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.7d0yd759c10z


This thesis is an interdisciplinary study of the (homo)sexual narratives that circulate in contemporary British contexts. It draws on three years of ethnographic research in Brixton, South London, centrally analysing in-depth interviews with 19 LGBTQ-identified residents to present a situated interrogation of (homo)sexual progress narratives. The research critically develops feminist and queer theorisations of the role progress narratives play in sexual politics, focusing particularly on the spatial and social imaginaries that are animated in celebrations of sexual modernity. Consequently, the thesis also interrogates the ways in which classed and racialized hierarchies are sustained through everyday attributions of homophobia. In addition, this analysis is brought into dialogue with research on gentrification and territorial stigmatisation to think about the role of sexual progress narratives in contemporary debates on housing and regeneration in London. I draw attention to the imbrication of local, national and transnational discourses in framing both spaces of homophobia, and spaces of sexual tolerance. This thesis argues that the ‘small stories’ made available through situated research should be turned to as a resource for critical theory. I identify and engage narrative techniques including proliferation, layering, periodisation, and fictionalisation, which can be deployed to tell a disorderly story of sexual progress. I suggest that layering these small, disorderly stories not only undermines the amenability of sexual progress narratives and gay rights rhetoric to stigmatisation, but also better reflects the heterogeneous experiences and desires of LGBTQ people. In this way, this thesis examines (homo)sexual progress narratives through new analytical frames, and contributes to scholarship on lesbian and gay politics, ‘gay’ gentrification, and sexual narrative.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2017 Emma Spruce
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Sets: Departments > Gender Institute

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