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Identity Politics as High-Risk Activism: Career Consequences for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Sociologists

Verta Taylor and Nicole C. Raeburn
Social Problems
Vol. 42, No. 2 (May, 1995), pp. 252-273
DOI: 10.2307/3096904
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3096904
Page Count: 22
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Identity Politics as High-Risk Activism: Career Consequences for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Sociologists
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Abstract

This paper argues that identity politics is a form of high-risk activism. We draw from collective identity approaches to social movements to describe how the Sociologists' Lesbian and Gay Caucus has used identity-based organizing, assimilationist politics, and personalized political strategies during the past two decades to challenge stigmatized representations of same-sex sexuality and promote equal treatment of gays and lesbians in sociology and the larger society. Using survey data collected in 1981 and 1992 from caucus members, supplemented by intensive interviews, we assess the extent to which an increase in reported rates of discrimination and bias during the past ten years is linked to variations in activist experience and political consciousness. We then present a qualitative analysis of five career consequences suffered by gay, lesbian, and bisexual sociologists who engage in various forms of personalized political resistance: 1) discrimination in hiring; 2) bias in tenure and promotion; 3) exclusion from social and professional networks; 4) devaluation of scholarly work on gay and lesbian topics; and 5) harassment and intimidation. We conclude by examining the implications of our findings for the social movement literature that addresses the formation, use, and impact of identity politics.

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