Queer studies is experiencing a methodological renaissance. In both the humanities and the social sciences, scholars have begun to identify research protocols and practices that have been largely overshadowed by dramatic advances in queer theory. We enrich these conversations by presenting pioneering work on queer methods in sociology, performance studies, African American studies, lesbian cultural studies, critical psychology, African studies, statistics, transgender and queer studies, media and digital studies, history, and English, as well as poetry and fiction.
Keywords: queer theory, queer methods, methodology
Research on LGBT movements has accelerated in recent years. We take stock of this literature with a focus on a central recurring debate among activists: Should we embrace what makes us unique and protest the heteronormative assumptions of existing institutions like marriage? Or should we assert our common humanity with heterosexuals and integrate into societal structures, work with our straight allies, and demand that the government stay out of our lives?
Keywords: protest cycles, turning points, gay liberation, lesbian feminism, queer activism, marriage equality
My book There Goes the Gayborhood? was the subject of an Author Meets Critics panel at the 2015 ASA meetings in Chicago. The buzz surrounding the session inspired a symposium in Environment and Planning A. Contributors include Harvey Molotch, Andrew Deener, Iddo Tavory, and Mary Pattillo.
Keywords: gay neighborhoods, sexuality, cities, post-gay
Ghaziani, Amin. 2015. “Gay Enclaves Face Prospect of Being Passé: How Assimilation Affects the Spatial Expressions of Sexuality in the United States.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 39(4): 756-771.
Same-sex households were less segregated in the U.S. in 2010 than they were in 2000. The statistics that demographers use to arrive at this conclusion are descriptive and disembodied. How do gays and lesbians explain in their own words why they wish to live in other parts of the city? In this article, I bring existing economic wisdom into dialogue with a cultural and political perspective about how our shifting understandings of sexuality also affect the decisions we make about where to live and socialize.
Keywords: gay neighborhoods, assimilation, sexuality, gentrification, culture
The queer metropolis has developed across three periods of time. During the closet era (1870—World War II), “scattered gay places” like cabarets and public parks were based in bohemian parts of the city. Distinct gay neighborhoods formed during the coming out era (World War II—1997), and they flourished in the “great gay migration” that ensued following the Stonewall riots. Today’s post-gay era (1998—present) is characterized by an unprecedented societal acceptance of homosexuality. Many existing districts are “de-gaying” (gays and lesbians are moving out) and “straightening” (heterosexuals are moving in) in this context. This chapter reviews research on the dynamic relationship between sexuality and the city across these three periods.
Keywords: gay neighborhoods, sexuality, cities, closet era, coming out era, post-gay era
When we think about gay neighborhoods, many of us are not immediately imagining lesbians. But like gay men, lesbians also have certain cities, neighborhoods, and small towns in which they are more likely to live. In this essay, I explain why this happens.
Keywords: culture, gender, gayborhoods, lesbians, geography
How can we measure the presence of distinct urban sexual cultures in a so-called “post-gay era” if those ways of life are defined by the suppression of cultural distinctions? How do we measure minority cultures that are merging into the mainstream? In this article, I inquire into how we can study the shifting geographic profile of a historically marginalized group as it experiences positive change in public opinion.
This piece was inspired by a “Measuring Culture” conference that John Mohr and I organized at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in 2012. Theory and Society published our papers in a special double issue of the journal (vol 43, issues 3-4, 2014). It houses an extraordinary collection of articles written by some of the finest sociologists of culture. Click here to access the articles.
Keywords: culture, measurement, post-gay, sexualities, urban sociology
What is the role of measurement in the sociology of culture? In this introductory essay for our special issue on “Measuring Culture,” John and I argue that we have a recurring need to reinvent measurement, we need to carefully think through linkages between qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis, and our theorizing necessarily precedes our efforts at measuring.
Keywords: culture, measurement, qualitative and quantitative methods, philosophy of science, S.S. Stevens, Paul Lazarsfeld,Emst Cassirer
Ghaziani, Amin and Delia Baldassarri. 2011. “Cultural Anchors and the Organization of Differences: A Multi-method Analysis of LGBT Marches on Washington.” American Sociological Review 76(2): 179-206 (lead article).
Is culture coherent? Is political dissent divisive? This lead article moves beyond binary answers of coherent or incoherent and unifying or divisive. Content, historical, and network analyses of public debates on how to organize four lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Washington marches provide evidence for an integrative position. Rather than just describe consistencies or contradictions in the planning process, we contend that the key analytic challenge is to explain the organization of differences. We propose one way of doing this using the mechanism of a “cultural anchor,” a notion that addresses one of the biggest unanswered questions in the sociology of culture and provides insight into how activists can fabricate unity amid inevitable infighting.
This piece won the 2012 Best Article award from the Collective Behavior / Social Movements section of the American Sociological Association. It also received an Honorable Mention for the 2012 Clifford Geertz Best Article award from the Sociology of Culture section.
Keywords: culture, coherence, social movements, sexualities, networks
This piece considers how historical changes in the meaning of sexuality affect the ways in which activists construct their collective identity. Consistent with conventional wisdom, LGBT activists construct collective identity using an oppositional “us versus them” framework during those times when they strategically deploy their differences from heterosexuals. But what happens when activists seek to emphasize their similarities to straights, as they are motivated to do during a post-gay moment?
Keywords: collective identity, sexuality, post-gay, culture, social movements.
Lesbian and gay residential patterns are shifting today. A recent flurry of media reports captures popular anxieties that urban enclaves long considered “gay neighborhoods” are disappearing as more straights move in and fewer gays express interest in residing in or relocating to them. How are gay neighborhoods changing in today’s post-gay era? What do we make of headlines that cry, “There Goes the Gayborhood?”
Keywords: gay neighborhoods, gayborhoods, post-gay, cities
“Culture” is one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language. It is therefore no surprise that Gary Alan Fine provocatively characterized culture in 1979 as “an amorphous, indescribable mist which swirls around society members.” But then how do you measure mist? My article is premised on the observation that sociological studies of culture have made much progress on conceptual clarification of the concept, but they have remained comparatively quiescent on questions of measurement. I offer one measurement mechanism that can remedy the problem of culture-as-mist. I call this a “resinous culture framework.”
Keywords: culture, measurement, resinous, infighting, social movements
Drawing on an ethnographic study of the Chicago Dyke March, this article focuses on an instance in which a movement’s ideology and identity contradict in order to advance the theoretical question of how culture “works,” that is, how activists use meaning-systems to influence what others think and how they behave. We introduce new perspectives about the conditions under which cultural elements work more or less effectively in the execution of a political demonstration.
Keywords: culture, gender, identity, ideology, sexuality, social movements, lesbians
Ghaziani, Amin and Gary Alan Fine. 2008. “Infighting and Ideology: How Conflict Informs the Local Culture of the Chicago Dyke March.” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 20(1-4): 51-67.
Although the study of local cultures has become established in sociology, it often ignores the contested nature of how culture emerges and is negotiated in the context of small groups. To this end, we address the concept of infighting, a subtype of conflict, as it operates within a small group framework. Building on an ethnographic study of the Chicago Dyke March, we demonstrate the ways in which infighting highlights competing ideologies that may remain implicit in the absence of such conflict. We elaborate four analytic processes through which this occurs: infighting emphasizes the multivocality of meaning; it highlights cultural heterogeneity; it draws our attention to an equilibrium between inclusion and exclusive group boundaries; and it unmasks how planning proceeds amidst power struggles.
Keywords: infighting, culture, idioculture, sexuality, social movements, lesbians
Keywords chronicle and capture cultural change by creating common categories of meaning against diverse local usages. We call this the “global-local tension.” To test competing theories of this tension, we employ frame analysis of more than 500 journal abstracts over a 25-year period, tracking spread of the economic keyword “business model.”
Keywords: keywords, cultural change, frame analysis, business model, Digital Economy
Ghaziani, Amin and Thomas D. Cook. 2005. “Reducing HIV Infections at Circuit Parties: From Description to Explanation and Principles of Intervention Design.” Journal of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care 4(2): 32-46.
Circuit parties are weekend-long, erotically charged, drug prevalent dance events attended by up to 25,000 self-identified gay and bisexual men who socialize and dance nonstop, sometimes for 24 hours or longer. Although these parties started originally as part of the gay community’s response to raise HIV/AIDS awareness and to build community and cultural identity, they may have become a site for transmitting HIV across geographical regions and socioeconomic groups of gay and bisexual men. This article proposes a 5-by-5 causal model matrix for reducing HIV infections, along with evaluable principles of intervention, at circuit parties.
Keywords: HIV/AIDS, intervention, circuit parties, club drugs, sexual behavior
Why do gay men and lesbians sometimes make different decisions about where to live?
Stombler, Mindy; Dawn M. Baunach; Wendy Simmonds; Elroi J. Windsor; and Elisabeth O. Burgess. 2014. “Spotlight on Research: An Interview with Amin Ghaziani.” Pp. 491-94 in Sex Matters: The Sexuality and Society Reader (4th edition). New York: Norton.
In this interview, I talk about who I am, what I do, and why I love doing it.
Frank Kameny, who died October 2011 at the age of 86, staged the first national demonstration for “homosexual” rights in 1965. In this essay, I recover a 2003 interview with the late activist.
Ghaziani, Amin. 2010. “The Reinvention of Heterosexuality.” Gay and Lesbian Review 17(3): 27-29.
Jonathan Ned Katz’s famous heterosexual history stopped at 1982. What has happened since then?
A queer theory-inspired protest that my students and I organized tests the limits of free speech on Princeton University’s campus. What is the role of the campus in classroom demonstrations?
The quest for ultimate bliss—both chemical and communitarian—has never been easier. Or riskier.
It was the first time local LGBT groups across the United States acted as one.