Class Foundations of Social Exclusion Toward Gay People

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Stef ADRIAENSSENS, KU Leuven, Belgium
The concepts of homonegativity and homophobia usually denote some sort of hostility or negative attitudes toward gay people. Most of the literature seems to focus on comparative differences between societies as a whole, and on the religious foundations of homophobia. These findings do suggest that the socializing institutions of society, for instance through religious teachings and practices, influence attitudes of social exclusion towards sexual minorities. However, within societies there are other significant sources of socialization. Social psychologists and sociologists have stressed that occupational and socio-economic experiences and differences are a basis for socialization. This class dimension may also apply to differences in social exclusion and rejection of homosexuals. There is some evidence that homophobia indeed has a social class dimension: manual workers are the least accepting of homosexuality, while the service class is the most accepting. This evidence is pretty robust. In different countries, there is a similar order in homonegativity. However, social classes are quite broad categories of occupational groups. The existing evidence has not much to say about the more nuanced image of which more detailed occupational groups differ in their attitude toward homosexuality. A second open question is whether social class or occupation today remains as relevant as before for the social exclusion of gay people.

This contribution attempts to shed light on the historical and occupational structure of the social exclusion of gay people. We will do so by

  1. testing whether these differences are systematic for all occupational groups, and
  2. whether the class or occupational relevance for attitudes toward homosexuality eroded through time.

We document this problem by measuring differences in social distance and moral disapproval towards homosexuality in the European and World Values Surveys. These large-scale survey have been conducted since the 1980’s in numerous countries.