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February 14th, 2014

Reading List: 8 wonderful social science books to read on Valentine’s Day

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Blog Admin

February 14th, 2014

Reading List: 8 wonderful social science books to read on Valentine’s Day

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Valentine’s Day always sees slushy tales of love crowd our news feeds, but in truth many ideas connected to relationships and sexuality are studied in universities – in human rights, sociology and politics. Here our reviewers recommend books covering the sociology of love, human rights and bodily rights, pornography and feminism, the future of marriage, homosexuality and the law, and sexuality across cultures. 


Why Love Hurts: A Sociological Explanation by Eva Illouz
Eva Illouz’s new book on the sociology of contemporary relationships is not simply a feminist text that laments the plight of women. Jacqui Gabb finds that Illouz unpicks the artifice of evolutionary biology and psycho-dynamic accounts which seek to cleave open ‘natural’ differences between men and women. The author’s positioning of emotions as part of social structures is a timely provocation and makes a valuable contribution to the sociology of emotions, but there is weakness in her focus on heteronormative relationships. Read more…

 


The Meaning of Matrimony: Debating Same Sex Marriage edited by Anastasia de Waal 
The Meaning of Matrimony attempts to capture the key arguments for and against marriage for gay couples in England and Wales. The contributors consider whether the Government’s legislation for same-sex marriage is liberal or illiberal; whether marriage should embody ‘tradition’ or social change; who speaks for the support and opposition of same-sex marriage; and importantly, the function marriage performs in society. Sneha Krishnan feels that a more diverse selection of voices should have been included, and that issues intricately connected to the debate on gay marriage – such as immigration and social welfare – should not have been sidelined. Read more…


Debating Same-Sex Marriage by John Corvino and Maggie Gallagher
Polls and election results show Americans sharply divided on same-sex marriage, and the controversy is unlikely to subside anytime soon. Debating Same-Sex Marriage provides an indispensable roadmap to the ongoing debate. Taking a “point/counterpoint” approach, John Corvino, a philosopher and prominent gay advocate, and Maggie Gallagher, a nationally syndicated columnist and co-founder of the National Organization for Marriage, explore fundamental questions. Megan Pearson thinks that despite its flaws, the book’s importance lies in its refreshing ability to facilitate a productive and rigorous debate. Read more…


Women, Sexuality, and the Political Power of Pleasure by Susie Jolly, Andrea Cornwall and Kate Hawkins
This collection explores the ways in which positive, pleasure-focused approaches to sexuality can empower women, with examples of activism, advocacy and programming which use pleasure as a starting point. Covering topics such as gender and development, disability and sex, and human rights and relationships, Women, Sexuality, and the Political Power of Pleasure is a fresh and fascinating engagement with sex, sexuality, and politics, writes Megan O’Branski. Read more…

 


Sexuality and Social Justice in Africa: Rethinking Homophobia and Forging Resistance by Marc Epprecht
The persecution of people in Africa on the basis of their homosexual orientation has recently received considerable coverage in the media. However, much of the analysis thus far has been highly critical of African leadership and culture without considering local nuances, historical factors and external influences that are contributing to the problem. In this book, based on pioneering research on the history of homosexualities and engagement with current LGBTI activism, Marc Epprecht aims to provide a sympathetic overview of the issues at play. Clearly written and richly annotated, the book will prove to be a useful guide for academics, social workers, and activists, writes Jia Hui Lee. Read more…


Sexuality in Muslim Contexts: Restrictions and Resistance by Anissa Helie and Homa Hoodfar
Using case studies from Pakistan, Iran, Indonesia, China, Bangladesh, Israel and India, Sexuality in Muslim Contexts argues that Muslim religious traditions do not necessarily lead to conservative agendas but can promote emancipatory standpoints. This book is one that should be read by all those interested in sexuality, religion, Islam, or gender, writes Olivia Mason. The wide range of case studies make it suitable for both an academic and general audience while the examples make it a stimulating and accessible read. Read more…


The Invention of Heterosexual Culture by Louis-Georges Tin
Heterosexuality is celebrated – in film and television, in pop songs and opera, in literature and on greeting cards – and at the same time it is taken for granted. It is the cultural and sexual norm by default. And yet, as Louis-Georges Tin shows in The Invention of Heterosexual Culture, in pre-modern Europe heterosexuality was perceived as an alternative culture. The practice of heterosexuality may have been standard, but the symbolic primacy of the heterosexual couple was not. Sarah Burton commends the author for his strong and methodologically original addition to the field of sexuality studies. Read more…

 


Anti-Porn: The Resurgence of Anti-Pornography Feminism by Julia Long
Countering the ongoing ‘pornification’ of Western culture and society, with lads’ mags on the middle shelf and lap-dancing clubs in residential areas, anti-porn movements are re-emerging among a new generation of feminist activists worldwide. This guide to the problems with porn starts with a history of modern pro and anti political stances before examining the ways in which the new arguments and campaigns around pornography are articulated, deployed and received. If you’re looking for a history of anti-porn activism, this is a good start. But if you’re looking for an argument against pornography, this book fails to deliver, writes Stephanie Spoto. Read more…

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 UK: England & Wales
This work by LSE Review of Books is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 UK: England & Wales.