Theories of Sexual Stratification: Toward an Analytics of the Sexual Field and a Theory of Sexual Capital*
Article first published online: 8 MAY 2006
Volume 24, Issue 2, pages 107–132, June 2006
How to Cite
Levi Martin, J. and George, M. (2006), Theories of Sexual Stratification: Toward an Analytics of the Sexual Field and a Theory of Sexual Capital. Sociological Theory, 24: 107–132. doi: 10.1111/j.0735-2751.2006.00284.x
- Issue published online: 8 MAY 2006
- Article first published online: 8 MAY 2006
The American tradition of action theory failed to produce a useful theory of the possible existence of trans-individual consistencies in sexual desirability. Instead, most sociological theorists have relied on market metaphors to account for the logic of sexual action. Through a critical survey of sociological attempts to explain the social organization of sexual desiring, this article demonstrates that the market approach is inadequate, and that its inadequacies can be remedied by studying sexual action as occurring within a specifically sexual field (in Bourdieu's sense), with a correlative sexual capital. Such a conception allows for historical and comparative analysis of changes in the organization of sexual action that are impeded by the use of a market metaphor, and also points to difficulties in Bourdieu's own treatment of the body qua body.