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The Social Constituents of Sadomasochism

Martin S. Weinberg, Colin J. Williams and Charles Moser
Social Problems
Vol. 31, No. 4 (Apr., 1984), pp. 379-389
DOI: 10.2307/800385
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/800385
Page Count: 11
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The Social Constituents of Sadomasochism
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Abstract

Traditional conceptions of sadomasochism are misleading. This is because they are not based on close examination of what the majority of SM participants actually do and how they interpret their own behaviors. Over a period of eight years, we interviewed a variety of SM participants and observed their behavior in many different settings. We found that sadomasochism was constituted by five social features: dominance and submission, role playing, consensuality, a sexual context, and mutual definition. These features formed the basis for the interpretation of behaviors and experiences as SM by participants. This focus permits a sociological model of the phenomena which avoids the limitations of more traditional conceptions.

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