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DeLamater & HasdayPage 3

human sexuality was mostly accomplished by sociologists” (Irvine 2003: 430).

All sociological theory, including theories of sexuality, is based on the fundamental assumption that human behavior is socially learned. These theories do not deny the existence of forces inherent in individuals. Sociological perspectives merely assert that the specific thoughts and behaviors exhibited by individuals are a product of social rather than biological forces.  This position is well stated by Kimmel and Fracher; “That we are sexual is determined by a biological imperative toward reproduction, but how we are sexual—where, when, how often, with whom, and why—has to do with cultural learning, with meanings transmitted in a cultural setting” (Longmore, 1998: 44). In fact, current work in the emerging field of biosocial research (which is distinct from the earlier theory of sociobiology) is exploring relationships between genes and sexual behaviors, while also examining the complex interactions between genes and the environment.  However, sociologists do fundamentally believe that it is human societies that most strongly determine their members’ sexualities, and sociology is fundamentally incompatible with both biological and psychological essentialist views.  

Two sociological frameworks have influenced the study of human sexuality substantially, symbolic interactionism and scripting theory. Both fall within the broad paradigm of social constructionism (Berger & Luckmann, 1966). The premise of social constructionism is that there is no objective reality, but rather that reality is socially constructed. Such social construction rests on language, which enables humans to form shared meanings of experienced phenomena. These meanings in term shape subsequent experience and behavior.

Symbolic Interactionism

Symbolic interaction theory is based on the writing and teaching of George Herbert Mead in the 1930s and 1940s. It gradually replaced the Chicago School in the 1950s and 1960s. For symbolic

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