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The sociology of lesbianism: female 'deviance' and female sexuality

Ettorre, Elizabeth Mary (1978) The sociology of lesbianism: female 'deviance' and female sexuality. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.pshhlnzbam8l


This thesis presents an analysis of lesbianism within a twofold perspective - the sociology of deviance (lesbianism as a 'counteridentity') and the sociology of female sexuality (lesbianism as it relates to the role of women in society). Throughout the text, I draw from both perspectives in order to present a contemporary view of lesbianism as a complex, social phenomenon. Traditionally, academics and others who were concerned with this area have advocated an individual or 'non-problematic' approach, or both. A major contention of this thesis is that prior theories have obscured important, it not necessary, social factors which are relevant to a full understanding of lesbianism. The methodology i. clearly outlined in terms of data collection (interviews, questionnaire. and participant observation), the purpose, goals and limitations of the research process. Three key sociological concepts are put forth and affect the direction of the analysis. They are: lesbian identity, lesbian role and lesbian social organisation. These concept. are drawn from a basic assumption of this thesis - Lesbianism, like sexuality, is a social construction. As the research process unfolds and the findings are revealed, we are continually confronted with lesbianism as a distinct, yet complex and changing social phenomenon which is directly related to objective social factors and subjective experience. A variety of relationships, organisational roles (of a political and non-political nature) and life-styles emerge from within the contemporary 'lesbian ghetto'. We observe how and why lesbians organise their social lives. It is hoped that a critical analysis of lesbianism will, not only challenge certain ideas about lesbianism and the lesbian role in society, but also, point out to the uninformed observer, academic and lay person alike, the complexities which are involved in the understanding of the contemporary lesbian experience, as well as the sociology of lesbianism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 1978 Elizabeth Mary Ettorre
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Sets: Departments > Sociology

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