Sexual Citizenship and Social Change: A Dialectical Approach to Narratives of Tradition and Critique

Langdridge, Darren (2024). Sexual Citizenship and Social Change: A Dialectical Approach to Narratives of Tradition and Critique. New York: Oxford University Press.



Over the last thirty years in the West, there has been enormous change in social and state acceptance regarding sex and sexualities, with an apparent new acceptance and openness towards diverse sexual practices and sexualities. Much of this change has come about through community claims for rights grounded in critical social theory and the language of citizenship. While accepting that much of the critique has been valuable in advancing rights for sexual minorities, Sexual Citizenship and Social Change argues that the mode of critique itself may become problematic. Examining the use and abuse of critique in contemporary sexuality scholarship and associated activism, Darren Langdridge implicates a particular form of critique that is detached, unfettered, and set loose from the usual anchor of tradition. Even the most ostensibly well-meaning critic--and associated critique--can become problematic when their arguments are detached from tradition. Further, the book shows that this unrestrained excess of critique is particularly dangerous because it emerges from within minority sexual communities and their allies, not from the usual conservative opposition to progressive change. Theoretically and empirically grounded, Sexual Citizenship and Social Change draws on ideas and findings from psychology, sociology, politics, and philosophy and offers a radical challenge to the unfettered adoption of a critical approach in sexualities scholarship and activism. It highlights why we need to shine a critical lens on critique itself, while also anchoring it in a more constructive relationship with its natural opposite: tradition.

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