Perhaps the central issue in the emerging area of inquiry known as lesbian and gay studies is the social constructionist controversy. Social constructionism is the view that the categories of sexual orientation (the category "homosexual" in particular, but also the categories "heterosexual" and "bisexual") are cultural constructs rather than universal categories of nature. According to this view, it makes no sense to say, for example, that Socrates was a homosexual because the cultural kind had not yet been constructed.
"Forms of Desire" brings together important essays by social constructionists and their critics representing several disciplines and several different approaches to this debate about the history and science of sexuality. The recent social constructionist viewpoint has its contemporary sources in two different schools of thought: continental philosophy as represented by Michel Foucault and the social interactionist school of sociology as represented by Mary McIntosh. The position's more distant ancestry involves the philosophical position known as nominalism. By bringing together papers which discuss different versions of social constructionism, as well as a number of papers critical of the view, the anthology provides easy access to the important essays on the topic and makes more transparent both the position and its genealogy.
Contributors: John Boswell, Arnold Davidson, Wayne R. Dynes, Steven Epstein, Michel Foucault, Ian Hacking, Mary McIntosh, Robert Padgug, Edward Stein, Leonore Tiefer, James Weinrich.