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Wednesday, February 24, 2010


There is a growing urgency among sex researchers to bridge the overwhelming gap between two dominant approaches to understanding sexuality – the positivist, empirical approach and the social constructionist approach (Bancroft, 2000). While on the one hand, it is undeniable that such fundamental biological processes as genetics, hormones, and biological development play important roles in the expression of sexuality at every level, it is also undeniable, on the other hand, that a culture's discourse around sexuality also influences sexual expression in ways that are not necessarily amenable to quantifiable, empirical study. Although it is generally acknowledged that there is some kind of interaction between individual biology and culture, these two strains of research have not yet found a shared language which mutually satisfies the two camps, and no methodologically useful way of modeling this interaction has been widely accepted among sex researchers. If we hope to understand sexuality in all its complexity, we must account for both sides of the story. The positivists must acknowledge as legitimate and incorporate into their research the important cultural factors that influence sexuality; in parallel, the social constructionists must acknowledge that basic genetic and biological processes affect cultural expressions of gender and sex.

Sex research needs simplified models of sexuality that are valuable insofar as they help create positive change (Bancroft, 2000). Dynamical systems theory may be a possible solution. Already utilized in fields as diverse as developmental psychology (cf. Thelen and Smith, 1994), artificial intelligence and philosophy of mind (Clark, 1998), meteorology (Lorenz 1963), anthropology (Bateson, 1980), and curriculum development (Doll, 1993), dynamical systems theory (DST) differs from both the traditional medical approach and the critical social constructionist approach in its theoretical assumptions and, more significantly, in its methodological approach to studying its subject. Dynamical systems theory may provide a practical, coherent way to model sexual development, identity, and culture in a way that accounts for the complex interactions between individual biology and psychology with social forces, accounting for both individual variability as well as social-level characteristics
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1 comment:

  1. You have nice structure but the looks are not sedative.