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The sociological construction of gender and sexuality



This essay considers how we might come to understand social constructionism sociologically. It examines a number of related approaches to gender and sexuality that speak to sociological concerns and might be termed social constructionist: historicism, symbolic interactionism, ethnomethodology and materialist feminism. By recognising that social constructionism is multifarious rather than unified, we find that each social constructionist approach offers particular strengths for analysing the complexities of gender and sexuality. Through closely analysing these approaches and some of the criticisms of them we can reassert sociology's specific contribution, and embrace social constructionist analyses which address the multilayered characteristics of the social in general and gender and sexuality in particular.