Researching Sex and Sexualities

Edited by Charlotte Morris, Paul Boyce, Andrea Cornwall, Hannah Frith, Laura Harvey, and Yingying Huang
With a Foreword by Meg-John Barker


A rich collection of essays that reflects on the methodologies and parameters for researching sexualities to offer innovative new approaches.

Sexuality is a complex and multifaceted domain – encompassing bodily, contextual and subjective experiences that resist ready categorisation. To claim the sexual as a viable research object therefore raises a number of important methodological questions: what is it possible to know about experiences, practices and perceptions of sex and sexualities? What approaches might help or hinder our efforts to probe such experiences?

This collection explores the creative, personal and contextual parameters involved in researching sexuality, cutting across disciplinary boundaries and drawing on case studies from a variety of countries and contexts. Combining a wide range of expertise, its contributors address such key areas as pornography, sex work, intersectionality and LGBT perspectives. The contributors also share their own experiences of researching sexuality within contrasting disciplines, as well as interrogating how the sexual identities of researchers themselves can relate to, and inform, their work. The result is a unique and diverse collection that combines practical insights on field work with novel theoretical reflections.

Author Bio

Andrea Cornwall is a professor of anthropology and international development at the University of Sussex. Her previous books include the edited collections Masculinities under Neoliberalism (Zed 2016) and Feminisms, Empowerment and Development (Zed 2014).

Paul Boyce is a senior lecturer in anthropology and international development at the University of Sussex. His previous books include the edited collection Understanding Global Sexualities: New Frontiers (2012).

Hannah Frith is a lecturer applied social science at the University of Brighton. Her previous books include Orgasmic Bodies: The Orgasm in Contemporary Western Culture (2015).

Laura Harvey is a lecturer in sociology at the University of Brighton.

Charlotte Morris lectures in sociology and gender at the University of Sussex.

Huang Yingying is an associate professor of sociology at Renmin University in China.

Table of Contents

  • Editorial Introduction - Paul Boyce, Charlotte Morris and Andrea Cornwall
  • Part One: Knowability
    • Introduction - Paul Boyce
    • 1. The Insinuating Body - Cara Judea Alhadeff
    • 2. Making Sense of Ambiguity: Theory and Method - Eva Cheuk-Yin Li
    • 3. Can Quantitative Applied Sexual Health Research Be Critical and Feminist? Towards a Critical Social Epidemiology to Support Targeted STI Testing and Contraception in Primary Care - Natalie Edelman
    • 4. Sex Shop Stories: Shifting Disciplines in Design Research - Fran Carter
  • Part Two: Creative Methodologies
    • Introduction - Laura Harvey
    • 5. Body Mapping, Stories and the Sexual Rights of Older People - Catherine Barrett
    • 6. Patchworking: Using Creative Methodologies in Sex and Sexualities Research - Catherine Vulliamy
    • 7. Dirty Talk: On Using Poetry in Pornography Research - P.J. Macleod
    • 8. The Cover Version: Researching Sexuality through Ventriloquism - E. McGeeney, L. Robinson, R. Thomson and P. Thurschwell
  • Part Three: Negotiating Research Contexts
    • Introduction - Yingying Huang
    • 9. Hesitating at the Door: Youth-led Research on Realising Sexual Rights Informing Organisational Approaches - Vicky Johnson
    • 10. Sexuality Research ‘In Translation’: First-time Fieldwork in Brazil - Natalie Day
    • 11. The Contingency of the Contact: An Interpretive Re-positioning through the Erotic Dynamics in the Field - Alba Barbé i Serra
    • 12. Sangli Stories: Researching Indian Sex Workers’ Intimate Lives - Andrea Cornwall
  • Part Four: Researcher Bodies, Identities, Experiences
    • Introduction - Hannah Frith
    • 13. Rotten Girl on Rotten Girl: Boys’ Love ‘Research’ - Anna Madill
    • 14. Diary of a Sex Researcher: A Reflexive Look at Conducting Sexuality Research in Residential Aged Care - Katherine Radoslovich
    • 15. Mum’s the Word: Heterosexual Single Mothers Talking (Or Not) About Sex - Charlotte Morris
    • 16. Sex and the Anthropologist: From BDSM to Sex Education, An Embodied Experience - Nicoletta Landi
  • Appendix: An Interview with Ken Plummer - Charlotte Morris


‘A profoundly honest and rigorous collection, full of insights into the unpredictable challenges and also the reverie of research on sex and sexualities. It combines theory, methods, ethics and stories – everything the researcher needs.’
Yasmin Gunaratnam, Goldsmiths, University of London

‘Revisits the perennial question of why and how to produce knowledge on sexuality. Its merit is to use epistemologically diverse points of entry to weave connections across generations of researchers.’
Sonia Corrêa, co-editor of Development with a Body

‘A rich and engaging exploration of the ways in which multifaceted sexual subjects and diverse sexual practices are situated, embodied and experienced in different contexts. It raises important questions about how we come to know and research contemporary sexual life worlds.’
Jacqui Gabb, The Open University

‘A very welcome addition to the field. It will be enormously useful for developing reflective research across a range of disciplines.’
Feona Attwood, Middlesex University


Publication Date: 15 February 2018
392 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781786993199
Hardback: 9781786993205
eBook ePub: 9781786993229
eBook PDF: 9781786993212
eBook Kindle: 9781786993236

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