The Cultural Economy of Urban Sexuality

Stephen Ellingson, Jenna Mahay, Anthony Paik and Edward O. Laumann

in The Sexual Organization of the City

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2004 | ISBN: 9780226470313
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226470337 | DOI:
The Cultural Economy of Urban Sexuality

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This chapter reviews the key findings about the cultural economy and the social structure of urban sexuality. It also places the study in conversation with larger, enduring themes in American society, such as individualism and choice; the patterning of concomitant outcomes, particularly by race and ethnicity; the sexual revolution; and the institutional politics surrounding sexuality. Institutional control over sexuality is a common thread that unites the historical, policy, and sociological literatures on sexuality, marriage, and family. One perspective suggests that institutions exert a high degree of control over sexual identities and expressions. Perhaps the best example of this approach is the work of Michel Foucault. The early Chicago school and the more recent subcultural theory of urbanism imply strong institutional control over sexuality for the majority, but weak control over certain urban populations owing to the heterogeneity, size, and density of urban spaces.

Keywords: cultural economy; urban sexuality; individualism; choice; race; ethnicity; sexual revolution; institutional politics; sexuality; Michel Foucault

Chapter.  4638 words. 

Subjects: Urban and Rural Studies

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