Pathways Working Paper 4

Changing Narratives of Sexuality – Concept Paper

Published on 1 August 2008

This concept paper focuses on the politics of sexuality. Its focus is on the normative construction of heterosexuality in mainstream narratives of sexuality produced by institutions such as the media, the law, religion and the development industry; by cultural arenas such as popular music and soap operas, as well as for counter narratives produced by women themselves.

Foregrounding concepts of heterosexualty, sexuality and gender, the paper explores the connections between them and connections to norms that reinforce compulsory heterosexuality and male supremacy, and the implications for the workings of power and privilege.

Narratives of sexuality serve both to affirm and also to challenge these norms. This paper suggests that the analysis of stories affords an opening up of the question of what social role stories can be said to play: stories may perform conservative functions by maintaining dominant orders or alternatively, might be used to transform lives and cultures. It explores how a narrative approach to the study of sexuality can allow us to explore cultural patterns of representations and action in different dimensions of the social, and the contribution of this to women’s empowerment.

Cite this publication

Pereira, C. (2008) 'Changing Narratives of Sexuality - Concept Paper', Pathways Working Paper 4, Brighton: Pathways of Women's Empowerment, Institute of Development Studies

Publication details

Pereira, Charmaine
978 1 85864 561 1


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