Centre for Intimate and Sexual Citizenship (CISC)
CISC was established in October 2009 and continues the long tradition of
research on sexualities, intimate life and equalities at the University of
News and events update
Un/doing chronomormativity: negotiating ageing, gender and sexuality in
On Wednesday 27 November our fourth seminar by Dr Kathleen Riach, Professor
Nicholas Rumens and Dr Melissa Tyler presents a paper based on a series of
'anti-narrative' interviews with LGBT men and women about lived experience in
About the Centre
CISC provides an interdisciplinary space for cutting edge theory and research
on contemporary intimate life, with particular reference to families,
relationships and sexuality. The Centre’s focus explores the complex interplay
between equality, intimate life and public identities, including:
- reproductive rights
- LGBT rights
- blended families
- the sexualisation of culture
- migration and belonging.
The journal Sexualities:
Studies in Culture and Society (published by Sage) is based at the
Intimate Citizenship and Sexuality studies
Current Essex scholars are specialists in the study of intimate life,
exploring family practices, relationships and sexuality. The Centre’s members
have a global perspective, doing research in societies in different regions of
the globe. They are experts in drawing out the significance of private
intimacies for public life.
The Centre also develops the
Department of Sociology’s rich tradition of sexuality studies. Much
pioneering research on sexualities and intimate life originated at Essex in the
early 1970s. Leading scholars such as
Ken Plummer, Mary McIntosh and Tony Coxon transformed the field of
sexualities, producing classic texts such as
Intimate Citizenship: Private Decisions and Public Dialogues (2003).
This tradition continues with the current members of the Centre, who do a
range of work engaged with intimacy, equality and citizenship.
The Centre will continue to support work on:
- intimate life;
- family practices;
- patterns of family change;
- critical engagement with epistemology and methodology; and
- sexuality and social theory.
The Centre maintains a commitment to theory and empirical research within a
global and interdisciplinary perspective.
The journal Sexualities
(SEX) is bi-monthly and is now indexed in ISI. It covers a vast array of
interdisciplinary topics including the stratification of sexualities by class,
race, gender and age and also covers Queer theory and lesbian and gay studies.
Its broad scope combines sexualized identities, globalization, pornography
and mass media communication. Fully peer-reviewed, it is methodologically
inclusive and genuinely international.
current issue of Sexualities.
Podcasts of our seminars
Our regular seminars are fortnightly every Wednesday at 1pm in room 6.345
and provide a forum for presentation and discussion of new research.
16 October: An examination of poverty and sexual
orientation in the UK
Dr Noah Uhrig, Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER)
Abstract For decades the British equalities agenda has
focused on redressing inequalities relating to gender and race/ethnicity, and
more recently, researchers have addressed other factors such as age, disability
and religious belief, which has given rise to a large and influential body of
academic and policy-relevant research in these areas. However, despite sexual
orientation being included in all major UK equalities legislation over the past
decade, policy-relevant quantitative analyses of inequalities due to sexual
orientation remain relatively scarce.
Commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the project focuses on the
relationship between sexual orientation and poverty.
It has three core
- What evidence is there of a link between specific sexual orientations
- If there is a link between sexual orientations and poverty, how and why
has this changed over time in the UK and other countries?; and
- What should be included in UK anti-poverty strategies in relation to
The work intends a critical synthesis of extant literature from the UK and
abroad, as well as top line analyses of the Integrated Household Surveys and UK
Household Longitudinal Study data.
Dr Uhrig is a Senior Research Fellow at the
Institute for Social and Economic
To listen to a podcast of this seminar, see our podcasts above.
30 October: I see what you mean: reflexive photography in
Samantha Warren, Essex Business School
Abstract In qualitative research we often wish to foreground
our participants' subjectivity, to get their 'view of the world'. In this talk,
I will propose reflexive photography as a method to literally attempt to do
this, through presenting some of my own studies and an outline of the benefits
and challenges of using a photographic methodology.
Before the session, please take one photograph that sums up your feelings
towards the University and bring it with you either on an electronic device, or
as a hard copy.
Biography Samantha Warren is a Professor in Management,
Research Director for the Essex Business School and a member of the Academic
To listen to a podcast of this seminar, see our podcasts above.
13 November: Bordering on Britishness: An oral history
study of identity in Gibraltar
Andrew Canessa, Department of Sociology
Abstract Gibraltarians are regularly described as being
"more British than the British" and are often represented in the media as being
overwhelmingly anti-Spanish. In this talk I present the research of an
ESRC-funded project in Gibraltarians' attitudes to Spain and the border that
divides them, revealing that Gibraltar's residents are much less homogenous than
is often supposed and that peoples' lives reveal complex and even contradictory
attitudes to their Spanish neighbours.
Biography Andrew Canessa is an anthropologist in the
Department of Sociology who has, for many years, worked with indigenous people
in Latin America.
27 November: Un/doing chrononormativity: negotiating
ageing, gender and sexuality in organisational life
Dr Kathleen Riach, Essex Business School,
Nicholas Rumens Business School, Middlesex University and
Dr Melissa Tyler, Essex Business School
Abstract This paper is based on a series of ‘anti-narrative’
interviews with LGBT men and women designed to encourage critical reflection on
the ways in which lived experiences of age, gender and sexuality are negotiated
and narrated within work organisations in later life. It draws on Judith
Butler’s performative ontology of gender, and how the desire for recognition is
shaped by heteronormativity.
The paper develops a critique of the impact of heteronormative life course
expectations on the negotiation of viable subjectivity within workplace
settings. ‘Chrononormativity’ shapes lived experiences of ageing within
organisations, at the same time as constituting an organising process in itself.
Drawing on Butler’s concept of ‘un/doing', the paper analyzes the
simultaneously affirming and negating organisational experiences of older LGBT
men and women. The paper concludes by emphasizing the theoretical potential of a
performative ontology of ageing, gender and sexuality for studying work
organisations, and the methodological insights to be derived from an
‘anti-narrative’ approach to sociological research.
Dr Riach is a Reader in the Essex Business Schoool and an Associate Professor in
the Department of Management at Monash University, Australia. Professor Rumens,
whose research focuses on LGBT friendships in the workplace, is a Professor of
Management at Middlesex University. Dr Tyler is a Professor of Work and
Organization Studies in the Essex Business School.
11 December: seminar cancelled
This seminar has been cancelled.
Title Subjectivities in the aftermath: the 'generation
between' in Britain, 1920-45
Michael Roper, Department of Sociology
Abstract This paper is based on on-going interviews with the
children of First World War veterans, who are now in their 80s and 90s, and
reflects on the experience of coming after the war, and what it meant
psychologically to this generation. People have been willing to participate in
the interviews, but frequently remark that their fathers did not talk about the
war and they did not ask questions.
The war’s legacy is most obvious among the children of disabled soldiers, but
it is also seen in parents’ attitudes towards corporal punishment and war
itself. Paradoxically, it is through memories of the Second War that we glimpse
The legacy of the First World War was revealed in particular memories – of
shrapnel working its way out of bodies, disabilities which grew worse with age,
and fears about children’s safety. However, the interviewees recall that their
own lives were not defined by the aftermath. Trauma theories look at the
emotional consequences of ‘postmemory’ and assume that the emotional impact of
the parents’ war shapes the subjectivities of the children. For this generation,
the personal experience of the Second War overlays the legacy of the First.
Biography Professor Michael Roper is a Professor in the
Department of Sociology at the University.
29 January: Licensed to Thrill: From Dirty Work to Abject
Labour in London’s Soho
Dr Melissa Tyler, Essex Business School
Abstract This article is based on ethnographic research
carried out in sex shops – retail premises selling sex toys, clothing and
accessories, as well as sexually explicit books and films located in London’s
Drawing on the concept of ‘dirty work’, it explores not only the ways in
which the various taints associated with dirty work - physical, social and
moral, are lived and experienced, but also the allure of this particular type of
work for those who perform it, and particularly of Soho as a work place.
In doing so, the article extends the study of dirty work by drawing attention
to two related themes that emerged from the research:
- the performance of what might be termed ‘abject labour’, that is, work that
invokes a simultaneous attraction and repulsion for those who undertake it
- the significance of location and place in understanding the lived experience
of work and the meanings with which particular types of work are imbued.
The discussion concludes by arguing that teasing out the inter-relationship
between these two themes – of simultaneity (of repulsion and desire) and
setting, enabling us to better understand interconnections between the meanings
attached to particular types of work, and the specific locations in which they
Dr Tyler is a Professor of Work and Organization Studies in the Essex Business
School. Her research interests focus on gender, sexuality, feminist theory and
the body at work.
12 February: TBC
Dr Kevin Lu, Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies
26 February: TBC
Prichard, Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
12 March: Cosmopolitan Sexualities
Professor Ken Plummer, Department of Sociology
Abstract Cosmopolitan sexualities has been advancing
globally for the past half century. In this talk Ken will introduce the idea,
trace its evolution and suggest the problems it faces.
Professor Plummer has taught at Essex from 1975 to 2005, when he retired. He has
written widely and his new book Cosmopolitan Sexualities will be published in
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