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Intimate realities and boundary-work in relationships without sex

Pöll, Laura Victoria Mercedes (2015) Intimate realities and boundary-work in relationships without sex. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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PÖLL_LVM_SociologyandSocialPolicy_PhD_2015.pdf - Final eThesis - complete (pdf)
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This thesis is the culmination of a qualitative social research project on the experiences of people in relationships without sex. Theoretically and ideologically grounded in Queer and Borderland Theories, my premise rests on the view that intimate relationships are a product of and subject to a culture of normativities in regards to sex and relating, with relationships without sex as disavowing the tenet of compulsory sexuality. In conjunction with the multiplicity of identities and practices this entails, I view relationships without sex and the people involved in them as being situated in the space between normative and non-normative sexual culture. Intelligibility, contextualised lived realities, their social-discursive construction, and conceptual boundarywork are key factors in highlighting the heterogeneity and intricacies of relating without sex. My participant cohort is made up of 13 individuals who, within a narrative interview framework, spoke about their relationships, identities, everyday experiences, challenges, (sub)cultural belongings, and conceptualisations of sex and intimacies. I very intentionally included accounts that highlight the possibility of not wanting sex by virtue of preference and/or identity, as well as realities in which people do not have sex for different – circumstance- or choice-based – reasons. An analysis of interview data forms the basis for findings that cast relationships without sex as an undertheorised, but incredibly rich topic of study with implications for refocusing both theoretical and qualitative work on intimacies due to calling into question socio-cultural expectations around sex being universally desired and always featured in significant (‘partner’) relationships. In this project specifically, relationships without sex sparked careful engagements with matters of intelligibility and how to achieve it when sex is usually assumed as a given; with the relationship between practice and identity; with sex as an integral constitutive, but far-from-fixed concept in relationships without; with various conditions that intersect to enable or constrain ways of relating without sex; as well as with existing relationship paradigms that structure fields of action and possibility in regards to different modes of relating.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: intimacy, relationships, sex, compulsory sexuality, asexuality, nonsexuality, queer theory, normativity, boundarywork, intelligibility
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Sociology and Social Policy (Leeds)
Depositing User: Laura Victoria Mercedes Pöll
Date Deposited: 24 May 2016 12:07
Last Modified: 24 May 2016 12:07
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/13127

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