Janice Irvine

Department of Sociology (College of Social and Behavioral Sciences)
Machmer 317

“Nuts, Sluts, and Perverts: Sociology’s Rocky Romance with Deviance”

This project is a genealogy of the sociology of deviance, 1945-1979. It situates the sociology of deviance in its Cold War historical moment and examines it in relation to other forms of knowledge production about difference (such as psychology and anthropology); to the emergence of new forms of cultural production about difference (such as television, film, poetry and prose); and to new social movements engaged in political mobilization on behalf of the deviants themselves. This project examines the connections between the production of knowledge about deviants, the emerging politicization of deviants, and forms of cultural production. Together, academic research, social movement mobilization, and popular culture brought new cultural visibility to particular deviant types. This, in turn, contributed to their normalization, and a resultant chagrin about, or repudiation of, earlier deviance literature. The field itself became stigmatized. Dr. Irvine will be using this ISSR Scholar year to pursue funding for this book project from the National Science Foundation.


  • Janice M. Irvine, “The Other Sex Work: Stigma in Sexuality Research,” Social Currents, 2015, 1-10.
  • Janice M. Irvine, “Is Sexuality Research ‘Dirty Work?’ Institutionalized Stigma in the Production of Sexual Knowledge.” Sexualities, Vol. 17, No 5-6, 2014.
  • Janice M. Irvine, “Can’t Ask, Can’t Tell: How IRBs Keep Sex in the Closet,” Contexts, Vol. 11, 2012.
  • Janice M. Irvine, Disorders of Desire: Sexuality and Gender in Modern American Sexology, Revised and Expanded Edition (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2005).
  • Janice M. Irvine, Talk About Sex:  The Battles Over Sex Education in the United States (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002).

Keywords: deviance, conformity, labeling theory, stigma, Cold War social science