Congratulations SEXUALITIES: Twenty Years Old!


Now Twenty Years Old, the 20th Anniversary Edition depicts the enormous range and success of a growing  field of research, activism and policy.  Its is marvellous issue, bursting with state of the art essays from many on its editorial board. It is a must read for sexualities scholars. 

In a very dark world right now, it does suggest there is some hope!

Well done!

Take  a look at:

See Sexualities: Vol 21, Issue 8 November 2018


Welcome to 2019











by James Henry

Another and another and another
And still another sunset and sunrise,
The same yet different, different yet the same,
Seen by me now in my declining years
As in my early childhood, youth and manhood;
And by my parents and my parents’ parents,
And by the parents of my parents’ parents,
And by their parents counted back for ever,
Seen, all their lives long, even as now by me;
And by my children and my children’s children
And by the children of my children’s children
And by their children counted on for ever
Still to be seen as even now seen by me;
Clear and bright sometimes, sometimes dark and clouded
But still the same sunsetting and sunrise;
The same for ever to the never ending
Line of observers, to the same observer
Through all the changes of his life the same:
Sunsetting and sunrising and sunsetting,
And then again sunrising and sunsetting,
Sunrising and sunsetting evermore.


Routledge International Handbook of Cosmopolitan Studies

The 2nd edition of The Routledge International Handbook o


edited by Gerard Delanty

has just been published.

It contains some 50 wide ranging original essays. I have a small contribution on





Researching Sex and Sexualities : Now Published

I have been interviewed by Charlotte Morris for this new and exciting book. See

Ken InterviewResearching Sex and Sexualities_PB_01

Storytelling Conference, University of Suffolk

10th and 11th July 2018

University of Suffolk, UK

We are excited to announce that the call for papers for our Storytelling Conference is now open. We invite papers that theoretically and empirically engage with a broad range of disciplines reflecting the diverse nature of storytelling and stories substantively and methodologically.

Keynote Speakers

Yiannis Gabriel – day one

Ken Plummer – day two

Ken’s Handout for lecture

The conference aims to bring together established academics, early career researchers, PhD candidates and students. Topics covered by this call could include but are not limited to:

  • Stories as a research method(ology)
  • Storytelling in the workplace
  • ‘Storied organisation’
  • Stories of place, space, movement and migration
  • Archaeological and historical stories
  • Children, stories and storytelling
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Stories in and of education
  • The organisation of story
  • The storytelling business
  • Sex and sexuality
  • Ethnographic stories
  • Disability and activism
  • Cultures and communities
  • Stories and popular culture

Whose side are we on? Lancaster Conference July 2018

The Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (SSSI) and European SSSI

Lancaster University 4 , 5 and 6 July 2018

 ‘Whose side are we on?’ Power, Stigma, Transgression and Exclusion in Everyday Life.




Some Notes for:

“Whose Side Are We On?” Revisited: On Narrative Power, Inequality and The Struggle for Human Value

Ken Plummer

‘To have values or not to have values: the question is always with us’. And so Howard S. Becker opened his celebrated Presidential Address, Whose Side are we on?at the American Society for the Study of Social Problems in 1967. Today, a half-century later, this conference returns to this puzzle – and Becker, with his key idea of the ‘hierarchy of credibility’.

My talk will fall into three parts. I start by briefly reviewing Becker and some key developments in our understanding of values and ideology since that time. The body of my talk will turn to my new book Narrative Power, and introduce some key ideas about narrative power, narrative inequalities and narrative exclusion, sketching out a basic model of intersectional and locational power which highlights Domination, Exclusion, Negotiation and Resistance. I highlight the dynamics of the subordinated standpointand narrative othering, drawing out a wide range of examples where these processes are featured and suggest many of us tacitly work with this in our studies.  I end with a discussion of the importance of trying to understand the struggle for human valuethroughout history, one that is grounded upon our embodied and emotional humanity. I suggest what some of these values might look like. Knowing our values helps us to understand better whose side we are on.


If you click here , HANDOUT you will get ny conference notes:

Annual Symbolic Interaction Conference

Whose side are we on? Power, Stigma, Transgression and Exclusion in Everyday Life

4,5,6 July 2018

University of Lancaster

For more info:

Ken Plummer:

“Whose Side Are We On?” Revisited: On Narrative Power, Inequality and Hope

‘To have values or not to have values: the question is always with us’. And so Howard S. Becker opened his celebrated Presidential Address, Whose Side are we on? at the American Society for the Study of Social Problems in 1967. Today, a half-century later, this conference returns to this puzzle – and Becker, with his key idea of the ‘hierarchy of credibility’.  My talk will briefly review Becker and some key developments since that time, before introducing some current thinking about narrative power, narrative inequalities and narrative injustice, sketching out a basic model of intersectional and locational power which highlights Domination, Exclusion, Negotiation and Resistance. I will look at a wide range of examples where these processes are featured and suggest many of us tacitly work with this in our studies.  I end with a discussion of narrative hope – built up from five key positive political practices: narrative recognition, narrative dialogic belonging, narrative justice, narrative citizenship and narrative flourishing.

The Political in the Personal: Families and Sexualities in Times of Social Change in Europe

A Conference to be held at University of Louvain, Louvain-La- Neuve, Belgium, 26-7 April


LEUVEN cropped-LLN_0

World AIDS Day 2017 : Everybody Counts



World AIDS Day 2017 : Everybody Counts

Once again it is World AIDS Day. HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed more than 35 million lives so far. In 2016, 1.0 million people died from HIV-related causes globally. There were approximately 36.7 million people living with HIV at the end of 2016 with 1.8 million people becoming newly infected in 2016 globally.

It is now some 36 years since I first recall reading about ‘The Gay Plague’ back in 1981. Indeed, for a short while it was called GRID- Gay Related Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Of course, there was a major uproar about such a name. And the Gay Movement started to get itself really organised to fight both the stigma being given to the disease and the lack of funding for research and care. In the 1980’s, AIDS became the central issues – it was absolutely at the heart of all Gay Men’s Lives as disease and death entered the world of young men in catastrophic proportions. Indeed, it did seem that homosexuality could even wipe us out. It also became a huge and major area of research – and in an odd way this became one of the foundations of the modern Queer Movement (through ACT UP) and indeed the academic work that started to grow (I wrote a number of small papers and one major one, which was published in 1986

Three major accounts have been published this year. I have not been able to read them yet – but they have had rave reviews and look to be really important, bringing together history and personal experiences in what was a key shaping period of modern queer history period of gay history. We should not forget!

David France How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed AIDS is over 600 pages and brings together personal experience and history, It has got much praise.
Richard McKay’s Patient Zero and the Making of the AIDS Epidemic traces the history of Gaetan Dugas “patient zero”, the first PWA, and the way he became a posthumous scapegoat.
Avram Finkelstein’s After Silence: A History of AIDS Through its Images (University of Californi) will be published this month. It looks at early work of protest artworks associated with the early years of the pandemic.

I look forward to reading them over Christmas!

50 Years of Decriminalization? Still Queer After All These Years


To mark the 50th Anniversary Changes in the law……

a recent  little piece written for the British Sociological Association Web site at:

British Sociological Association: News: July 27th

50 Years of Decriminalization? Still Queer After All These Years

On 27th July 1967, the Sexual Offences Act, ‘an act to amend the law of England and Wales relating to homosexual acts’, was passed – starting the long journey to decriminalize homosexuality, foster equality, become liberated. Just one year before that I had ‘come out’ as gay to self, friends, family and the gay world. And one year after that I embarked on a PhD on gay life, and became an ‘out’ sociology lecturer. Then, in 1970, at the London School of Economics, I sat in an inspiring room with 12 others at the start of the Gay Liberation Front, coming our politically. These were intoxicating times.

The 1970s brought exhilarating changes as new gay scenes, activisms, and ideas emerged along with tremendous possibilities for studying gay life. (A BSA Homosexuality Study group was set up). The 1980s brought darker times with the ubiquitous fear of HIV and AIDS everywhere, as well as in Thatcher’s nasty Clause 28. Yet both of these events did help in mobilization, and a challenging industry of research on AIDS emerged. By the 1990s, a real take off point had happened – theoretically with queer theory, and practically with the development of stronger mainstream movements like Stonewall. The controversial assimilationist battle over queer marriage dominated the politics of this next period, along with growing global concerns for gay rights. And here we are now, celebrating progress and the 50th anniversary of the changes in the law. It is good to do so: in dark times, the successes of the past fifty years are real markers of advance. And yet…

Changes have been slow, piecemeal and often grudging. Indeed, as Peter Tatchell has shown on his website, “Gay sex ceased to be a crime in the UK only four years ago. Unbelievable but true!”. It has indeed taken many years to remove all the cautionary restrictive clauses. And despite many positive trends, we must be careful about this cheerful cheering. Stonewall has kept documenting problems in schools (with bullying, for example), in the workplace and more generally in their 2013 study they could, notoriously, can still document “one in six lesbian, gay and bisexual people experiencing a homophobic hate crime or incident over the last three years”. And world wide, there are still some 72 countries that still criminalise same –sex relationships (I see an image of a world map with two thirds of the world hostile).

But let’s come a little closer home. As a gay sociologist for fifty years I have rarely experienced the discriminations and hostilities that I have written about; and have found sociology, and my department at Essex, to be a welcoming discipline in which to be gay. But that said I have not found the discipline that hospitable in taking seriously the intellectual issues of queer or LGBT in its overall project. I have been allowed my own little space, but work in this field is not encouraged and does not flow into mainstream sociology at all.

I could give many examples but here are two, merely illustrative. First, back in 1995, the BSA organized its pivotal conference around ‘Sexualities in Social Context’ and several of is organizers were certainly gay and lesbian. Yet, in the three volumes of papers finally published in 1996 (some 34 articles selected from 250), only two were gay linked, and they were about HIV! Jump forward twenty years to John Holmwood and John Scott’s important recent Palgrave Handbook of Sociology in Britain (2014): over 600 pages there is no significant mention anywhere of homosexuality! How is this possible in an age of so called intersectionality? There may be a liberal acceptability of LGBT today, as indeed there was in my circles in the 1970s, but it happens in a tiny controlled space on its own: it is absolutely not allowed to enter the mainstream of anything. Look at key sociological works on class, power, ethnicity, social movements, digitalism, human rights, gender, the body etc: it is queer indeed that LGBT/Queer issues will rarely if ever be found – you have to look a little outside of sociology to find them, but rarely within sociology! The same of course wickedly applies to theory: queer theory is still, unbelievably after 30 years, noticeably absent from most books on social theory (I looked at twenty texts to hand, and found queer theory briefly mentioned in only two).

This is not really good news. Why is this? I suspect a deep disciplinary and institutional bias: as any one who studies racism and sexism will know, these processes have deep and complex historical roots. We may now be legal, but I am reminded of Sumner’s pithy clichéd dictum: legislation cannot make the mores. Despite legal changes, there is still a very long way to go.


Ken Plummer’s first books were Sexual Stigma (1975) and The Making of the Modern Homosexual (1981). His most recent writings include: ‘Afterword: Liberating Generations: Continuities And Change in The Radical Queer Western Era’ in David Paternotte and Manon Tremblay, eds (2015) Ashgate Companion to Lesbian and Gay Activism; ‘On the Infinitude of Life Stories: Still Puzzling Queer Tales After All These Years’ QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking 4.1 (2017) p189-197; and Cosmopolitan Sexualities: Hope and the Humanist Imagination (2015). Ken is Emeritus Professor in Sociology at the University of Essex.