Professor James Joseph Dean

James Dean
  • Associate Professor of Sociology
  • Ph.D., State University of New York, Albany
  • B.A., Pomona College

Contact Information

Email: james.dean@sonoma.edu
Voicemail: 707.664.2599
Fax: 707.664.3920
Office: Stevenson 2085
Personal Website: jamesjosephdean.com

Areas of Expertise:

Sexualities, Social Theory, Gender, Race/Ethnicity, Culture.  I am a sociologist who is interested in sexualities, gender, race, and inequalities.  In my book Straights I make the case that the politics of sexual identity in America have drastically transformed since the Stonewall Riots in 1969. It’s almost old news that recent generations of Americans have grown up in a culture more accepting of out lesbians and gay men, seen the proliferation of LGBTQ media representation, and witnessed the attainment of a range of legal rights for same-sex couples. But the changes wrought by a so-called “post-closeted culture” have not just impacted the queer community—heterosexuals are also in the midst of a sea change in how their sexuality plays out in everyday life. In Straights, I argue that heterosexuals can neither assume the invisibility of gays and lesbians, nor count on the assumption that their own heterosexuality will go unchallenged. The presumption that we are all heterosexual, or that there is such a thing as ‘compulsory heterosexuality,’ I claim, has vanished.

Based on 60 in-depth interviews with a diverse group of straight men and women, Straights explores how straight Americans make sense of their sexual and gendered selves in this new landscape, particularly with an understanding of how race does and does not play a role in these conceptions. I provide a historical understanding of heterosexuality and how it was first established, then move on to examine the changing nature of masculinity and femininity and, most importantly, the emergence of a new kind of heterosexuality—notably, for men, the metrosexual, and for women, the emergence of a more fluid sexuality.  A fascinating study, Straights provides an in-depth look at the changing nature of sexual expression in America.

Courses Offered:

  • SOCI 360: Sociology of Sexualities
  • SOCI 375: Sociological Theory
  • SOCI 363: Sociology of Race & Ethnicity
  • SOCI 385: Sociology of Culture
  • SOCI 498: Senior Seminar:  Gender & Sexualities

Selected Publications:

  • Dean, James Joseph.  2014.  Straights:  Heterosexuality in Post-Closeted Culture.  New York:  New York University Press.
  • 2013. “Heterosexual Masculinities, Anti-homophobias, and Shifts in Hegemonic Masculinity: The Identity Practices of Black and White Heterosexual Men.” The Sociological Quarterly 54: 534-560.
  • Steven Seidman, Chet Meeks, and James Joseph Dean. 2012. “The Politics of Authenticity: Civic Individualism and the Cultural Roots of Gay Normalization” in Oxford Handbook of Cultural Sociology, edited by Jeffrey Alexander, Ronald Jacobs, and Phillip Smith, pp. 507-525. New York: Oxford University Press.