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Ett litet ord med stora implikationer: En studie om förståelsen kring ordet Gay i allmänt negativ bemärkelse
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2011 (Swedish)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Many of us have grown up hearing or using words meant as insults or negative adjectives that were in fact names for social groups. Most of them have gone unquestioned in the mainstream consciousness, but the term Gay in the generally negative meaning has in the past years been given attention as offensive and homophobic, with debates emerging in response over whether or not this is true, particularly on the internet. It is the articles and forum threads from these debates that make out the empirical material for a qualitative study as I ask what these people’s thoughts are about this term and how it is perceived.

After a qualitative coding and analysis of these texts, and interpretation of the results based on Erving Goffman’s theory of Phantom acceptance and stigma terms, Judith Butler’s theory of performativity, Ferdinand de Sassure’s theory of signifier and signified and how it connects to the community and Baudrillards theory of simulacra, this is the principal conclusion that I have drawn:

For some of the people in this debate, the term Gay and its use is about homophobia and heterosexism, though mostly it’s not overt but a subconscious part of the continued dehumanization and stigmatization of homo- and bisexual people. This is a position I call

The socially focused skepticism. Others distance themselves from this idea, talking about language development, the lack of inherent meaning of words and freedom of expression. Using Baudrillard for guidance, I interpret this as having a different, more abstract view of language than those who connect the term to heterosexism, and with this focus on language I name this position The language centered defense. Yet another group frame their reasoning about the term in compromise, preferring to limit their use of it to certain contexts rather than disposing the habit entirely or risk causing offense. To these people, whether or not the word is homophobic is less relevant to the discussion than showing respect for how it can be perceived, which gives their position the name The compromising position.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
that’s so gay, slur, slurs, heteronormativity, homophobia, heterosexism, slang, language centered defense, socially focused scepticism, compromising position
Keyword [sv]
nedsättande ord, heterosexism, homofobi, gay, ungdom, skola, diskursiv diskriminering, heteronormativitet, stigma, förtryck, skällsord, slang, Språkcentrerat försvar, Socialt fokuserad skepticism, Kompromissande hållning, nedsättande ord
National Category
Sociology Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-167335OAI: diva2:483669
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2012-01-31 Created: 2012-01-25 Last updated: 2012-01-31Bibliographically approved

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Department of Sociology
SociologySociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)

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