• Sexual Deviance and Society         
  • Sociology of Deviance         
  • Sociology of Sexualities
  • Deviance and Social Control
  • Gender and Sexuality in Media
  • Unlearning LGBTQ Negativity     
  • Professionalization Seminar           
  • Teaching Seminar

Sexual Deviance and Society, Second Edition

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In a society where sexualized media has become background noise, we are frequently discouraged from frank and open discussions about sex and offered few tools for understanding sexual behaviors and sexualities that are perceived as being out of the norm. Sexual Deviance and Society encourages readers to establish new ways of thinking about stigmatized peoples and behaviors, and to think critically about gender, sex, sexuality and sex crimes.

This revised second edition includes new theoretical approaches such as Norm-Centered Stigma Theory; expands into new fields of criminology such as queer criminology; more deeply discusses non-binary people’s experiences; includes updates to the landscape of LGBTQ rights; reviews “new” forms of sexual deviance including “incels” and “revenge porn”; covers the latest developments in the #MeToo movement and expands on the discussion of SM, including the “50 Shades Phenomenon.” In addition, this edition reviews the ever-evolving world of sex work and camming by examining how Pornhub, OnlyFans, and exotic dancers/strip clubs have revolutionized sex work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Utilizing an integrative approach that creates a dialogue between the subjects of gender, criminology and deviance, Sexual Deviance and Society  is a key resource for students interested in crime and deviance, gender and sexuality, and the sociology of deviance.

From the Reviewers (Second Edition, 2021):

“The new edition of Meredith Worthen’s Sexual Deviance and Society is a triumph. It is nuanced yet foundational, empirically grounded yet theoretically sophisticated. And it is a pleasure to read. I cannot imagine any instructor teaching the subject and not adopting this book.” 
Erich Goode, Sociology Professor Emeritus, Stony Brook University

“Meredith Worthen serves the reader with a very sophisticated analysis of one of the most complex and vibrant topics confronting society. The topics in Sexual Deviance and Society are schemed and analyzed with great insight and creativity. Students in Deviance classes will be informed by its content and more progressive in thinking about sexual deviance. Human sexual behavior is probably the most dynamic topic in sociology and Worthen takes it a step beyond. Worthen proves that deviance is alive, well, and exciting. A great text and research tool. Worthen explores all the topics and uncovers new ones with a rousing style.”
Craig J. Forsyth, Professor of Sociology, University of Louisiana, Lafayette, and Editor-in-Chief of Deviant Behavior

“In the second edition of Sexual Deviance and Society, Worthen has built upon her successful initial effort to allow the reader to set aside preconceived heteronormative ideas about what is and is not “normal” sexual behavior. In this edition, she goes far beyond her initial work, incorporating information from rapidly changing culture into a sociological study of sexual behavior within the framework of the sociology of deviance. Worthen expands the reader’s knowledge of the theoretical explanations of the subject through the introduction of her own stigma theory, Norm-Centered Stigma Theory (NCST), as well as informative discussion of queer theory. By illustrating the on-going changing definitions of “normal” and “deviant” sexual behaviors over time and across societies, the text illustrates the often-political nature of the labeling of behaviors (an those who engage in them) as deviant. Additionally, the book reflects the expanded understanding of non-binary gender identities and the experiences of non-binary individuals. The book has been updated to reflect recent events and cultural changes, including The Me Too Movement, with information about offenders such as Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein. Replete with recent data, as well well-crafted figures and illustrations, the book is a must-have for those whose interests fall under the umbrella of the sociology of deviance.” 
Susan F. Sharp, David Ross Boyd Professor of Sociology Emerita, University of Oklahoma

“Worthen breaks down barriers between literatures that often speak in different languages: sexualities, sex crimes, and the sociology of deviance. Sexual Deviance and Society offers a unified approach to the ways in which culture, power, and norms shape our understandings of sex, sexuality, and crime. This second edition is simultaneously rich in discussions of theory, the history and social construction of sex and sexuality, and pressing social and legal issues (such as the #MeToo movement and revenge pornography). Together, this makes Sexual Deviance and Society a worthwhile resource for scholars and students in a number of disciplines. It should serve as inspiration for instructors who are hoping to cover much ground in a coherent, creative, and engaging way that students will connect to and enjoy.” 
Kaitlin Boyle, Assistant Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of South Carolina

“Worthen explores constructions of sex, sexuality and how these relate to and intersect with deviance and criminality. She integrates sociological theories in order to examine gender, power, sexuality and crime. The main strength of
Sexual Deviance and Society is that Worthen recognizes the distinction between sexual deviance and criminal sexual behaviour and takes great pains to make this clear to the reader in a sensitive and inclusive way.”

Sexual Deviance and Society  comprises a very well-integrated combination of general and particular approaches to a wide range of topics within the fields of deviance, sexuality and crime. The approach to these fields spans both sociological and criminological perspectives. The first five chapters provide a general account of the conceptual contours and analytical frames organising social scientific approaches to deviance and sexuality. Chapter 6 provides an important survey of the changing nature of sexual practices and Chapter 7 discusses deviance throughout history, whereas Chapter 8 recasts deviance through the lens of adolescence. Chapters 9 to 11 focus on the cultural prevalence of sexual fetish and their framing as deviant practices. The final section and chapters of the book provide important discussions on a range of some of the most taboo subjects within contemporary society. In so doing, they connect up and demonstrate the value of social scientific forms of thought for unpacking and understanding a wide range of contemporary sexual practices, crimes and constructs. Overall, the book adheres to a logical and coherent structure organised around key analytic themes and empirical foci. Like all well-written books, engaging with the text feels like being in the presence of a well-intentioned guide. I commend the level at which the prose is pitched and the style in which it is delivered.”

“This important textbook offers a unique and comprehensive look at deviance from a sociological perspective with a specific focus on the intersections of gender, sexuality and criminality. In this second edition are a number of timely and important updates that include LGBTQ concerns and non-binary identities, the normalization of BDSM, and recent research on sex offending and the treatment of sex offenders. Overall, Sexual Deviance and Society is very readable and engaging.”

Sexual Deviance and Society  comprises a very thorough and broad account of deviance as understood and constructed the lens of sexuality. As the author notes early on in the book, sexuality and sexual deviance comprise a far more significant dimension of people’s lives than is typically acknowledged or explicitly discussed. That the book tackles this head on is highly appealing. It provides students with a forum for thinking about and addressing issues of sexuality and deviance as important both at the level of the individual. Overall, the book contributes to the breaking down of stigmas surrounding sexuality and deviance, at the same time as analytically, it brings together in one place, a wide, in-depth survey of key developments within the sociology of sexual deviance and changes to sexuality and deviance within wider society at the same time.”

Sexual Deviance and Society is very good at making connections between and unpacking the significance of sociological accounts of deviance and their wider cultural and political implications and consequences. Not only is this good intellectual practice but it allows for the material to be framed in a way that makes it immanently meaningful for students and readers. Specifically because it brings home to them and makes clear the highly politicised nature of sexual practice and deviance therein. The foci and framing is exemplary in its capacity to demonstrate the political significance of people’s most private practices.”

From the Reviewers (First Edition, 2016):

“Meredith Worthen’s Sexual Deviance and Society is the sort of book I’ve been looking forward to for some time. The author has intelligently organized the relevant topics, and she and her colleagues have discussed and analyzed them with great insight and imagination. Every sociologist of deviance should consider adopting this volume and every one of our students will be enlightened by reading it. I loved it and so will they.”
Erich Goode, Sociology Professor Emeritus, Stony Brook University

“Drawing from both sociological and criminological perspectives, Sexual Deviance and Society offers a thoughtful, nuanced, and comprehensive examination of sexual deviance. Worthen’s analysis is both theoretically grounded and empirically supported, and provides readers with a thorough understanding of the complex and ever-evolving societal attitudes toward human sexual behavior.”
Amanda Burgess-Proctor, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Oakland University

“Meredith Worthen serves the reader with a very sophisticated analysis of one of the most complicated and dynamic topics facing society. The topics in Sexual Deviance and Society are schemed and analyzed with great insight and creativity. Students in Deviance classes will be informed by its content and more progressive in thinking about sexual deviance. Human sexual behavior is probably the most exciting topic in sociology and Meredith takes it a step beyond. Worthen proves that deviance is alive, well, and exciting. A great text and research tool. Worthen bares and explores all the topics.”
Craig J. Forsyth, Professor of Sociology, University of Louisiana, Lafayette, and editor of Deviant Behavior

“This book fills an important niche in the sociological study of deviant behavior. Worthen has structured the book to allow the reader to set aside preconceived heteronormative ideas about what is and is not “normal” sexual behavior, framed in both historical and theoretical frameworks, focusing on the social construction of defining acts or individuals as deviant. She gently challenges the reader to understand the differences between statistical deviance and the often politicized labeling of behaviors as deviant, focusing on the role of power structures, location and time, emphasizing the ever-evolving definitions of what is (and is not) considered deviant. Because some of the material may tap into past trauma, she incorporates suggestions for self-care in the text. Replete with well-crafted figures and illustrations, the book is ideal for a course on this topic as well as informative for any student of human sexuality. It is a must-have for those whose interests fall under the umbrella of the sociology of deviance.”
Susan F. Sharp, David Ross Boyd Professor of Sociology, University of Oklahoma

“Honestly, this is the text I have been looking for. I have been extremely frustrated with the content of introductory deviance texts which are usually written by white men who practice little sensitivity to issues facing women and other genders and orientations. I’ve been so frustrated, in fact, that I have emailed the authors of my chosen textbook with suggestions of improving inclusivity. The subject of sexual deviance is certainly very relevant in the context of current events and sociological trends. Given the epidemic of violence against children, women and the LGBT community, the book’s importance cannot be understated.”

“The study of deviance will greatly benefit from this text. For too long, LGBT and women’s issues have been marginalized from introductory material, which is a great disservice to these vulnerable communities. This text recenters the discipline on those groups that stand to benefit the most .”

Sexual Deviance and Society provides a unique, comprehensive, insightful and challenging exploration of one of today’s most prominent, yet socially shadowed, social issues. Through a discussion that has both breadth and depth, Worthen has provided students with a most valuable tool for understanding some of the basic building blocks of personal and social identities and how something as seemingly simple as “sex” has multiple complexities, meanings and consequences for all of society.”

“I strongly feel that this text is needed, and I would love to build a course just for this text. This text excites me in that it brings topics into the discussion that few if any texts bring to light. What is particularly refreshing is that the text utilizes criminological theory to help explain sexual deviance and sex crime, in additional to the broad sociological perspectives and classical theories. This text advances the study of sexual deviance to a more organized and comprehensive scholarship.”

“Worthen’s Sexual Deviance and Society offers a refreshing perspective on issues of sexuality and sexual deviance. Its sociological approach and incorporation of insights from criminology, the sociology of deviance, and the sociology of gender provides students with the necessary theoretical background to understand the complexities of human sexuality.”

About the Publisher:

Routledge is the world’s leading academic publisher in the Social Sciences.