The sexuality-assemblage: Desire, affect, anti-humanism

Nick J. Fox, Pam Alldred

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Citations (Scopus)


Two theoretical moves are required to resist the 'humanist enticements' associated with sexuality. Post-structuralism supplies the first, showing how the social produces culturally specific sexual knowledgeabilities. A second anti-humanist move is then needed to overturn anthropocentric privileging of the human body and subject as the locus of sexuality. In this paper we establish a language and landscape for a Deleuze-inspired anti-humanist sociology of sexuality that shifts the location of sexuality away from bodies and individuals. Sexuality in this view is an impersonal affective flow within assemblages of bodies, things, ideas and social institutions, which produces sexual (and other) capacities in bodies. Assemblages territorialize bodies' desire, setting limits on what it can do: this process determines the shape of sexuality, which is consequently both infinitely variable and typically highly restricted. We illustrate how this anti-humanist ontology may be applied to empirical data to explore sexuality-assemblages, and conclude by exploring the theoretical and methodological advantages and disadvantages of an anti-humanist assemblage approach to sexuality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-789
Number of pages21
JournalSociological Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


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