Title page for ETD etd-05202009-112551

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Browne, Heidi Frances
URN etd-05202009-112551
Title Individualism and Attitudes toward Homosexual, Premarital, Adolescent, and Extramarital Sexual Behaviors
Degree PhD
Department Sociology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Bailey, Carol A. Committee Chair
Harrison, Anthony Kwame Committee Member
Hawdon, James E. Committee Member
Sewell, Edward H. Jr. Committee Member
  • Perceived Deviance
  • Attitudes
  • Individualism
  • Sexual Behaviors
Date of Defense 2009-05-01
Availability unrestricted
The primary purpose of this research was to examine the relationship between individualism and attitudes toward four types of sexual behavior, specifically adolescent sex, premarital sex, extramarital sex, and homosexual sexual behavior. A secondary purpose was to add to the conceptual and methodological discussions of individualism.

In the United States these behaviors are becoming more common and attitudes generally more accepting. What remains unclear and under theorized is why? I address this question from the frame of the intersection of sexuality studies with the study of deviance as these behaviors have been considered to fit normative, absolutists, statistical and/or reactive definitions of deviance. This research was informed by Hawdon’s recent general model of deviant behavior. In brief, one of Hawdon’s contributions to the study of deviance is his addition of the cultural value of individualism as an explanatory variable related to cross-cultural rates of drug use.

The primary research question that guided this research was: Is individualism related to attitudes toward adolescent sex, premarital sex, extramarital sex, and homosexual sexual behavior? Utilizing data from the General Social Survey, this question was examined using a variety of conceptualizations of individualism to test the relationship between individualism and attitudes toward the various sexual behaviors for five time periods--1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006. Three major hypotheses were posed regarding the relationship between individualism and attitudes toward perceived sexual deviance. The analysis did not support the hypotheses. Reasons for this lack of support for the theoretical perspective were discussed.

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