Friday, January 18, 2008

"Messengers of Sex"

Celia Roberts is Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new book, Messengers of Sex: Hormones, Biomedicine and Feminism, and reported the following:
On p. 69 I begin a section on puberty. This section takes a critical look at contemporary scientific understandings of the role of hormones in producing adult bodies, and argues that science tends to focus too much on hormones at the expense of social and cultural experience. My argument in this section, as throughout the whole book, is not to say that science is wrong, or that hormones do not matter at all, but to try and complexify our understandings of the interaction between biology (hormones) and social factors. I think that science too often sets the social aside, thus making arguments about hormones that are too simplistic (and sociology does the same thing with biological explanations, by the way!). The result of this Page 69 test is a good one for me because puberty is an area I want to work more on, and I am now starting on a new book project that will investigate this topic in more depth. I think puberty is an incredibly interesting time in our lives, in which we can see both massive biological/ physiological change, but also really significant social changes for any particular individual. As puberty is now happening earlier and earlier, I think there is a lot at stake in thinking about puberty in a sociologically informed way that also takes into account the role of hormones as ‘messengers of sex’. To understand what I mean by that phrase, you’ll need to read the rest of the book! Thanks for your interest and I’d enjoy any feedback on the book you want to send me.
Read an excerpt from Messengers of Sex and learn more about the book at the Cambridge University Press website. Learn more about Celia Roberts' research and other publications at her university webpage.

--Marshal Zeringue