Sexual minorities and risk studies

The study of “sexual minorities” and “risk” has been a tradition within the department of sociology since the 80's. Throughout the years, these main themes were approached within the context of different theoretical frames namely sexual health, medical sociology, social biology and epidemiology.

Under the umbrella term “sexuality” we understand sexual identity, sexual perception and sexual behaviour both on the individual and the structural level. Further, “sexuality” also refers to the interaction between the biological sex and the social and cultural construction of gender. The latter concept is mainly examined from a social biological perspective. We define the concept of “risk” not only as individual risks, such as specific risk behaviour (e.g. sexual risk behaviour), but also as structural risks (e.g. environmental risks, technological risks) and their impact on human functioning. The study of sexual risk behaviour among sexual minorities bridges the main themes.

The research described above is not performed alone. Over the past years we have had the chance to develop firm professional research bonds. Hans works closely with the department of endocrinology, UH Gent (Dr. Guy Chung; Prof. Kaufman) and Wim cooperates with Sensoa and the ITM. Also, the Policy Centre for Equal Opportunity (Alexis Dewaele) has been involved in much of our research (Nele) and the research group formerly headed by Prof. Harm Hospers - Reshape (University of Maastricht) – works around the same topics as Nele and Wim. Concerning technological and environmental risks, different research projects are developed by Frederic, who at this moment works at the department Metarisk of the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in Paris.