A pioneering study which has become an established classic in its field, Sex, Politics and Society provides a lucid and comprehensive analysis of the transformations of British sexual life from 1800 to the present. These changes are firmly located in the wider context of British social, political and cultural life, from industrialization, urbanisation and the impact of Empire and colonisation, through the experience of economic disruption, World Wars, the establishment of the welfare state, changing patterns of gender and the emergence of new sexual identities. This book also charts the rise of both progressive and conservative social movements, including feminism, LGBT activism, and fundamentalist movements. It is a history where the past continues to live in the present, and where the present provides ever more complex, and often controversial patterns of sexual life, with sexual and gender issues at the heart of contemporary politics.  

Now fully revised and updated, this edition examines key new developments including:

  • the impact of globalisation, and the digital revolution;
  • gender nonconformity and the rise of transgender consciousness;
  • shifting family and relational patterns, and new forms of intimacy;
  • changes in reproductive technology including the debates on IVF and surrogacy;        
  • new discourses of equality and sexual rights for LGBT people;
  • the irresistible rise of same-sex marriage;
  • the weakening of the heterosexual/ homosexual binary divide and the development of new lines of concern and divisions in the politics of sexuality.

Combining rich empirical detail with innovative theoretical insights, Sex, Politics and Society remains at the cutting edge of the subject, and this fourth edition will inspire and provoke a whole new generation of readers in history, sociology, social policy and critical sexuality studies.

chapter 1|23 pages

Sexuality and the historian

chapter 2|17 pages

‘That damned morality’

Sexuality in Victorian ideology

chapter 3|20 pages

The sacramental family

Middle-class men, women and children

chapter 4|24 pages

Sexuality and the labouring classes

chapter 5|16 pages

The public and the private

Moral regulation in the Victorian period

chapter 6|34 pages

The construction of homosexuality

chapter 8|20 pages

The theorisation of sex

chapter 9|22 pages

Feminism and socialism

chapter 10|19 pages

Sex psychology and birth control

chapter 11|35 pages

Towards a conservative modernity

chapter 12|21 pages

The state and sexuality

chapter 13|30 pages

The permissive moment

chapter 14|30 pages

Personal politics and moral conservatism

chapter 16|16 pages

Diversity, agency and citizenship