Published: November 23, 2021


Campbell, A. (2021). Following a straight path? The social locations and sexual identity trajectories of emerging adult women. Journal of Sociology, 14407833211049596. https://doi.org/10.1177/14407833211049596

Author:

Alice Campbell


Abstract:

The sexual identities of today’s young women are more fluid and less consistently heterosexual than those of their predecessors – a trend that can be attributed to shifts in the socio-cultural context over time. However, this cannot explain within-cohort differences in women’s identity trajectories. In this article, I draw from critical heterosexuality studies and test how young women’s social locations are associated with their propensities to change towards or away from claiming a straight identity. Consistent with expectations, I find that women who occupy a position on the sexual landscape characterised by lower levels of heteronormativity, or who indicate a willingness to break with heteronormative expectations in the future, are more likely to change away from claiming a straight identity over time. My findings suggest that heteronormative ideology continues to structure women’s lives to degrees that vary according to their social locations.