Sexuality – A New Topical Summary for Explaining Human Culture

A new topical summary on Sexuality is now available in Explaining Human Culture, our open access database that summarizes the results of over 1,000 cross-cultural studies. The sexuality module is authored by HRAF President Carol R. Ember along with former HRAF interns Milagro Escobar and Noah Rossen.

The purpose of the topical summaries is to overview what we think we have learned about a particular topic, such as sexuality, and to point out some of the things we do not yet know from cross-cultural research. It is our hope that these summaries will not only be useful for classroom use, but will also stimulate further research to fill in the gaps in our knowledge.

The Sexuality summary can be downloaded as a PDF file or ePub (ebook). The summary provides more in depth information to supplement the Sexuality teaching exercises and Sexuality in-class activity available on Teaching eHRAF. Here is the abstract from the summary:

Sexual reproduction is part of the biological nature of humans, so it may be surprising how much sexuality varies cross-culturally. Indeed, societies vary considerably in the degree to which they encourage, discourage or even appear to fear heterosexual sex at different life stages and in varying circumstances. And societies vary widely in their tolerance and practice of homosexuality. This module explores cross-cultural patterns in sexuality and explanations of why sexual attitudes and practice may vary.

Cross-cultural research, most of it based on very diverse worldwide samples of societies, has concentrated on customary behaviors and attitudes relating to premarital sex, marital sex, extramarital sex, restrictions and sex taboos, sexual double standards, and homosexuality. We believe this summary will add insights to an important and popular topic which is prominently featured across the academic curriculum at both undergraduate and graduate institutions. The topic is especially relevant in the social sciences including anthropology, sociology, and psychology. Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) is an interdisciplinary academic program offered as a major at Yale, UConn, Ohio State, Williams College, Allegheny College, and Mills College among others

As higher education has witnessed the growth of academic departments covering the subject of sexuality, college and university libraries have added to their collections for research.  The WGSS section of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) actively promotes scholarship in this area.

Explaining Human Culture explores cross-cultural questions about human universals and differences on a wide variety of subjects. Topical summaries are now available in the following areas:

To review the Sexuality summary and other topical summaries – or to search the database by documents, hypotheses, and variables – please visit Explaining Human Culture.