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"A Most Interesting Chapter in the History of Science": Intellectual Responses to Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male

Drucker, Donna J. (2012):
"A Most Interesting Chapter in the History of Science": Intellectual Responses to Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.
In: History of the Human Sciences, Sage, pp. 75-98, 25, (1), ISSN 0952-6951 , [Online-Edition: DOI: 10.1177/0952695111432523],
[Article]

Abstract

There were three broad categories of academic responses to Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (Kinsey, Pomeroy and Martin, 1948): method; findings; and broader reflections on the book’s place in American social life and democracy. This article focuses primarily on archival academic responses to Kinsey’s work that appeared in the year following the book’s publication. Many academics agreed that some aspects of Kinsey’s method were flawed and that his interpretations sometimes overreached his raw data. Nonetheless, they also agreed that no one else had gathered such a diverse sampling of interviewees whose behaviors Kinsey could use to create new interpretive models of human sexuality. As Kinsey’s research was deliberately interdisciplinary, his research and statistical methodologies began to catch on in the human sciences and to encourage academics and intellectuals to rethink their human science practices. As academics reflected on the volume’s larger meaning in American life, several of them thought it exemplified the worst American values (emphases on money and size) while others saw the very existence of the Male volume as an excellent example of the ability of free citizens to pursue and to publish research on any topic. While members of the American intelligentsia championed the Male volume and its findings as democratic, the reception of Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin and Gebhard, 1953), published at an intense moment of the cold war, was viewed as a communist threat to American security for revealing the sexual secrets of the public.

Item Type: Article
Erschienen: 2012
Creators: Drucker, Donna J.
Title: "A Most Interesting Chapter in the History of Science": Intellectual Responses to Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male
Language: English
Abstract:

There were three broad categories of academic responses to Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (Kinsey, Pomeroy and Martin, 1948): method; findings; and broader reflections on the book’s place in American social life and democracy. This article focuses primarily on archival academic responses to Kinsey’s work that appeared in the year following the book’s publication. Many academics agreed that some aspects of Kinsey’s method were flawed and that his interpretations sometimes overreached his raw data. Nonetheless, they also agreed that no one else had gathered such a diverse sampling of interviewees whose behaviors Kinsey could use to create new interpretive models of human sexuality. As Kinsey’s research was deliberately interdisciplinary, his research and statistical methodologies began to catch on in the human sciences and to encourage academics and intellectuals to rethink their human science practices. As academics reflected on the volume’s larger meaning in American life, several of them thought it exemplified the worst American values (emphases on money and size) while others saw the very existence of the Male volume as an excellent example of the ability of free citizens to pursue and to publish research on any topic. While members of the American intelligentsia championed the Male volume and its findings as democratic, the reception of Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin and Gebhard, 1953), published at an intense moment of the cold war, was viewed as a communist threat to American security for revealing the sexual secrets of the public.

Journal or Publication Title: History of the Human Sciences
Volume: 25
Number: 1
Publisher: Sage
Divisions: 13 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Sciences > Institute IWAR > Spatial and Infrastructure Planning
13 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Sciences > Institute IWAR
13 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Sciences
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2015 13:11
Official URL: DOI: 10.1177/0952695111432523
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