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Sex for LifeFrom Virginity to Viagra, How Sexuality Changes Throughout Our Lives$
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Laura Carpenter and John DeLamater

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814772522

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814772522.001.0001

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Sexual Expression over the Life Course

Sexual Expression over the Life Course

Results from Three Landmark Surveys

(p.236) 12 Sexual Expression over the Life Course
Sex for Life

Aniruddha Das

Linda J. Waite

Edward O. Laumann

NYU Press

This chapter compares data from the 1992 National Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS) and the 2005–2006 U.S. National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP) to track trends for frequent sexual thoughts, masturbation, and partnered sex across the life trajectory. In addition, the chapter introduces two other theoretical themes: sexual expression as a dyadic, rather than simply individual phenomenon, and the role of social networks in shaping sexual patterns. The result of the analyses suggest that adult sexual careers resemble a tree-like “global” structure, with key “local” structuring factors—physical health and sexual dysfunctions, partner availability and a partner's health, attitudes and beliefs regarding sex, and social embeddedness—entraining individuals along specific pathways. Apart from biological age, coming of age in more permissive times has a strong and enduring impact on one's sexuality, arguably due to the internalization of specific sexual templates or scripts.

Keywords:   NHSLS, NSHAP, sexual trends, sexual expression, adult sexual careers, coming of age, sexual templates, sexual scripts

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