Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States / Edition 1

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The Social Organization of Sexuality, a report on the nation's most comprehensive representative survey of sexual behavior in the general population to date, finally offers that basic information. Conducted by a research team centered at the University of Chicago, the National Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS) was designed to determine the incidence and prevalence of sexual practices and to place them in their social contexts. Based on personal interviews with a probability sample of 3,432 American women and men between the ages of 18 and 59, undertaken by the National Opinion Research Center, this study explores the extent to which sexual conduct and general attitudes toward sexuality are influenced by gender, age, marital status, and other demographic characteristics. The results of this survey both allow us to better understand how sexual behavior is organized in American society, and offer significant implications for policymakers struggling with many of the nation's crucial health problems. In exploring the rate of new partner formation, for example, the researchers discovered that about 80% of American adults had only one or no sexual partner in the past year. By concentrating AIDS awareness information on the 20% of the population that had two or more partners. AIDS strategists would be better able to target and persuade this segment of the population to modify their sexual behavior. Other topics covered by the survey include early sexual experiences, masturbation, contraception and fertility, abortion, sexual abuse, coercion, sexual health, satisfaction, and sexual dysfunction. A wide variety of sexual practices and preferences are also explored in the questionnaire, including specific questions on homosexual desire, identity, and behavior, the appeal of various sexual practices, and their frequency and incorporation into sexual lives.

Based on interviews w/3,432 men & women/discusses effects of age, gender & marital status/extra-marital sex/etc.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Based on the National Health and Social Life Survey, a 1992 nationwide survey of 3432 American men and women between the ages of 18 and 59, this is one of two books reporting on the findings. This book is intended for professional social scientists, counselors, and health professionals, while Robert T. Michael and others' Sex in America, just published by Little, Brown, anticipates a more general audience. Beginning with the theoretical foundations, rationale for, and design of the methodology, the authors put the work in historical context as they assert its accuracy and generalizations, urging caution about interpretation and implications of their sometimes surprising findings. Though the study was designed largely to "fill significant gaps in our knowledge of sexual behavior associated with the acquisition of the AIDS virus," this book achieves a refreshingly readable examination of masturbation, sexually transmitted infections, cohabitation and marriage, fertility, and homosexuality. The text throughout is buttressed by graphs, charts, tables, diagrams, appendixes, bibliographic references, and author and subject indexes (not seen). For academic collections.-James E. Van Buskirk, San Francisco P.L.
A report on a survey of sexual behavior conducted by a research team centered at the University of Chicago, designed to determine the prevalence of sexual practices and place them in their social contexts. The results, not especially readable to the general public, offer statistics on aspects of American sexual behavior such as new partner formation, early sexual experiences, contraception and abortion, coercion, and sexual dysfunction. Includes numerous tables and graphs, and the complete survey questionnaire. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226469577
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1994
  • Series: Studies in Crime and Justice Ser.
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 750
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward O. Laumann is the George Herbert Mead Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago.

John H. Gagnon is the Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Emeritus, at the State University of New York, Stony Brook.

Robert T. Michael is the Eliakim Hastings Moore Distinguished Service Professor and dean of the Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago.

Stuart Michaels was the project manager of the NHSLS suvey and is currently adjunct clinical professor in the Department of Public Health and Epidemiology at the University of Paris XI, France.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
1 Theoretical Background 3
2 The Study Design 35
3 Sexual Practices and Profiles of Sexual Expression 77
4 The Social Organization of Subjective Sexual Preferences 148
5 The Number of Partners 172
6 Sexual Networks 225
7 Epidemiological Implications of Sexual Networks 269
8 Homosexuality 283
9 Formative Sexual Experiences 321
10 Sex, Health, and Happiness 351
11 Sexually Transmitted Infections 376
12 Sex and Fertility 442
13 Sex, Cohabitation, and Marriage 475
14 Normative Orientations toward Sexuality 509
Epilogue 541
Appendix A: Sampling Procedures and Data Quality 549
Appendix B: Comparisons of the NHSLS with Other Data Sets 571
Appendix C: Text of the NHSLS Questionnaire 606
References 679
Author Index 707
Subject Index 712
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