Getting it ‘Straight’: (Hetero)sexual identities, heteronormativity, and gender in Johannesburg, South Africa

This ethnography drew on qualitative data that were collected over three years in a northern suburb in Johannesburg, South Africa. The aim of the study was to gain a comprehensive understanding of how middle-class men and women of 18 to 28 years of age shape, experience, and make sense of their (hetero)sexual identities. The focus on middle class young people permitted for a nuanced understanding of heterosexual identities in current society. It did so by using an intersectional approach to illustrate how a number of identity markers (such as race, class, age, gender, and culture) intersect to shape heterosexual beings and experiences. The study placed heteronormativity and intersecting identity markers at the centre of its analysis to show how these pervasive drivers not only shape young people’s heterosexual identities, but also how heterosexuality, for a large part, is institutionalised, taken for granted and naturalised among these participants.

Title: Getting it ‘Straight’: (Hetero)sexual identities, heteronormativity, and gender in Johannesburg, South Africa
Author: Smuts, Letitia
Year: 2020
Pages: 175
Language: English
Type of thesis: Ph.D. dissertation (2020-03-18)
City of publisher: Amsterdam
Publisher: VU University Amsterdam
ISBN: 9789463757904
Geographic term: South Africa
External link: https://research.vu.nl/en/publications/getting-it-straight-heterosexual-identities-heteronormativity-and
Abstract: This ethnography drew on qualitative data that were collected over three years in a northern suburb in Johannesburg, South Africa. The aim of the study was to gain a comprehensive understanding of how middle-class men and women of 18 to 28 years of age shape, experience, and make sense of their (hetero)sexual identities. The focus on middle class young people permitted for a nuanced understanding of heterosexual identities in current society. It did so by using an intersectional approach to illustrate how a number of identity markers (such as race, class, age, gender, and culture) intersect to shape heterosexual beings and experiences. The study placed heteronormativity and intersecting identity markers at the centre of its analysis to show how these pervasive drivers not only shape young people’s heterosexual identities, but also how heterosexuality, for a large part, is institutionalised, taken for granted and naturalised among these participants.