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The Social Construction of Lesbianism
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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."

--Choice

"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."

--AFFILIA

"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."

--Ethics

 
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

This volume was awarded a 1989 Distinguished Publication Award by the Association for Women in Psychology.

`A "highly recommended" book. It is well written, with that rare blend of vitality and erudition which makes it accessible to a wide audience... one could not ask for a clearer demonstration of the interpenetration of `science' and `politics' ' - The Psychologist

`A scholarly and empirically substantial study which will make an important contribution to existing debates within social construction theory' - The Times Higher Education Supplement

`A witty expos[ac]e of the absurdities in so-called value free research, done with panache and perception. A good blend of scholarship and sense, well-written and so accessible... a paradigm for sound research in social science' - Dale Spender

`Contains many lessons for all those involved in research. It is a closely argued, highly readable book. Kitzinger presents a multi-layered argument in a clear and intelligible manner. The clarity of her argument is aided by a well structured book... Kitzinger writes that the success of the social constructionist approach depends primarily on the "capacity to invite, compel, stimulate or delight the audience". In this book, Kitzinger achieves all of these aims admirably' - British Educational Research Journal

`Required reading for people interested in homosexuality, the relation of identity to ideology, the politics of science, and feminist theory' - Ethics

`Witty and poignant... Kitzinger's arguments are very convincing... challenging and absorbing... (she) makes an excellent job of presenting the pros and cons of both liberal humanist approaches and radical feminist approaches. The book is so dense with arguments and counter-arguments, I cannot possibly do justice to it... it is only books like this that make us rethink our whole approach to such important issues... a book that brings into question many of the beliefs that researchers take for granted. It will have you thinking about these issues long after the book has been put down, and discussing it with your friends' - British Journal of Guidance and Counselling

`A brilliant book!... an important contribution to the literature on lesbianism, and an equally important lesson to all those who take pride in their liberal humanism and in their social science' - Barbara Katz Rothman, City University of New York

`This combined analysis of the political roles of research together with a thoughtful research contribution adds to our understanding of the realpolitik of science. Kitzinger's goal is not to denounce science, but to deconstruct it, to show that there are permanent contradictions and tensions in doing research if what you are interested in is social change. In the final analysis, she is telling us, science glorifies science and keeps scientists employed... the book has an exceptionally comprehensive bibliography which will introduce the novice to the sociology of science field. I do commend this interesting book highly' - Archives of Sexual Behavior

`A much needed challenge to the offensive wash of liberal humanism that threatens to drown us in benign ignorance and limited acceptance' - Time Out

`This is an extremely important debate for feminism' - Spare Rib

`A lively and intellectually engaging work... a significant contribution to the literature of social constructionism... an admirable analysis' - Operant Subjectivity

`A powerful description of the subtle ways psychologists shape our ideas of what lesbians should be. Celia has taken a wonderfully critical look at her own profession and at Western scientific conventions. Hers is one of the best feminist attacks I've read on how social science works against the interests of heterosexual women and lesbians... Celia's analysis of lesbian descriptions of their identity is fascinating... her book has a strong radical-feminist analysis (which) sharpened my thinking about my community. It showed me the many ways in which radical ideas about lesbianism can be undermined or gently turned in another direction' - Broadsheet


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