Social Representations of homosexuality in an Indian context

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http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201807022939
Title: Social Representations of homosexuality in an Indian context
Author: Dsilva, Keshia
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, Sosiaalitieteiden laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Research
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för socialvetenskaper
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2018
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:hulib-201807022939
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/236838
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Sosiaalipsykologia
Social Psychology
Socialpsykologi
Abstract: There exists an extensive body of research on homosexuality, yet only a few studies address local meanings of homosexuality and still fewer attempt to understand the processes that construct these meanings and the values and beliefs of the people that share these meanings. Such studies would be particularly relevant in India as a developing and highly pluralistic country where the legal status of homosexuality has been in a state of flux. The unique history and religious diversity in India have shaped the way in which different communities come to understand homosexuality. Influences of both colonization and tradition are salient and constantly interacting, yet in many ways conflicting with each other. To explore these influences and intersections in relation to conceptions of homosexuality, the social representation theory was used as a methodological framework. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in Bangalore with six families from the urban middle class representing the major religions of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Out of these six families, two families from each of the three religions participated. For each family, one member belonged to the youngest generation (18+ years of age), one to the middle generation and one to the grandparents’ generation. As Bangalore is the second fastest growing metropolis in India, it provided a good background to explore potential influences of modernisation. The inter-generational and inter-religious approach helped to provide insights on how these categories, in addition to their national identity as Indians, entwine and frame these participants’ representations of homosexuality. Across religions and generations, three representations of homosexuality were identified: nature, nurture and culture. In the first, homosexuality was categorized in terms of what is ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’, in the second in terms of ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ and in the third, in terms of ‘deviant’ and ‘non-deviant’. Despite these convergent primary categorizations, participants’ ages, religions and gendered perceptions of what constitutes homosexuality intersected in diverse yet specific and patterned ways. My analysis sheds light on the functions served by these representations, local practices and customs, as well as social change in India with respect to meanings, understandings and practices of homosexuality.
Subject: social representations
homosexuality
India
generations
religions
inter-sectionality
identity
qualitative research


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