One of the foundational dilemmas in sociology is the tension between the competing roles of individual agency (free will) and social structure (society) in human life. Some people argue that human beings always have free will, or the ability to direct their lives using individual choices. Others argue that who we are as people is fundamentally shaped by social experience, and even our sense of what “choices” we can make are determined by our social position and circumstances. In this view, “free will” is often framed as an “illusion.” Sociology, of course, offers a more nuanced perspective on how human beings function in everyday life, and posit that individuals live in complicated social locations formed simultaneously by individual agency and social constraint.
This issue of “agency versus constraint” is particularly salient in the sociological study of human sexuality. Using at least FOUR of the readings assigned for class thus far:
1. Explain how both “freedom” and “constraint” characterize:
a. Sexual behavior
b. Sexual desire
c. Sexual identity
2. In your conclusion to this essay examination, explain how the dual concepts of “sexual agency”/“sexual constraint” can be BOTH useful and limiting in sociological analysis of sexuality.
For this assignment, students are required to reference 4 separate course readings in the text of their essays. Videos watched for class may be used as additional sources, but will NOT replace course readings for the four required references. Note that since our readings are all from a single edited volume, be sure to cite the author of each reading individually, rather than the volume editors.
1. References: 4 course readings
2. In-text citations and References section in APA format
3. 12-point font, Times New Roman
4. 1” margins throughout
5. Minimum length = 5 pages (i.e. at least 4.5 pages, with the 5th page being at least to the half-way point of the page); Maximum length = 6 full pages
6. Page numbers on ALL pages