Abstract--YinBin Ning's papers

On Mutuality of Sex, and Reciprocity of Sex Trade.

SOCIETAS: A Journal for Philosophical Study of Public Affairs 18(Sept. 2006): 1-24.

Philosopher S. E. Marshall argues that sex should be mutual, and thus sex trade is wrong because its mode of sex generally lacks mutuality. This essay analyzes and refutes Marshall’s argument by using various examples and showing mutuality sometimes may be incompatible with reciprocity.

 

 

 

 



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Abstract--YinBin Ning's papers The Politics of Death in Modernity.
Router: A Journal of Cultural Studies. 1(Sept. 2005): 1-45

The prevalent approach in Taiwan’s thanatological discourse treats death as simply common fate of humanity, while overlooks the constructive dimension of modern death. This reductive and essentialized approach to the issues of death, in my view, provides only one-sided view on the moral and political controversies surrounding death and funeral rituals. Following theories of Giddens, Elias, Aries, Seale and others, this essay explores the relation between death and modernity, and the politics of modern death. In the end, this essay shows the politics of dead body (corpse) is an important element of the politics of modern death and modern body.

 

 



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Abstract--YinBin Ning's papers

Notes Towards An Intellectual History of Sexual Emancipation: Erotic Politics, Erotic Minority, Erotic Stratification.

Working Papers in Gender / Sexuality Studies, 3&4 (September 1998): 179-234.

Can we still talk about emancipation in this postmodern age? Can queer discourse connect to the emancipation discourse? This long essay first defines the two closely related elements--epistemological and political--of the modern concept of emancipation, upon which the meaning of an "emancipation of sexuality" depends. This article then selectively examines a few key ideas that emerge in different historical moments and originate from various intellectual traditions. The key ideas examined are: the political nature of sexuality or political sexualities, erotic minorities, erotic stratification, sexual freedom, sexual revolution, sexual critique, sexual enlightenment, modernization of sex. Finally, this essay try to respond the following questions: can the idea of emancipation of sexuality survive the postmodern challenge? What would be a queer contribution or component to this emancipation?


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Abstract--YinBin Ning's papers

Sex Work and Modernity (Prelude) : Modern Self and Its Conditions

Taiwan: A Radical Quarterly in Social Studies. 53 (March 2004): 85- 143.

Why or why not is selling one's sex alienating one's self? This question can be traced back to a more general question which Hegel and others were concerned when paid labor became prevalent, that is, Why or why not is selling one's labor power or service alienating one's self? Like sex work, various types of modern work, especially in their emerging stage or in their informal sector, are also full of risks of alienating one's self in the form of self being appropriated, privacy encroached, or boundary of intimacy violated. To understand exactly how the alienation of self in question proceeds, the approach of social interactions instead of philosophy is required. As my essay demonstrates, it is through the techniques of self-presentation during the actual human interactions that the private self of the service worker is appropriated by the customer, or vice versa. Hence, for this phenomenon of alienation of self, Goffman's writings provide the most relevant interpretive analysis, which will be detailed in a subsequent essay. The present essay in its first half nevertheless develops the issue of alienation of self into a Goffmanian problematic: How does sex worker present herself in work? However, this Goffmanian approach to the question of alienation of sex worker's self still needs to be located in a wider context concerning the dynamics and structural conditions of the modern self and its formation. Thus, the second half of the essay situates the interactions and the boundary maintenance of modern selves in five kinds of modern conditions that also constitute the core elements of (late) modernity. The implication of this discussion is to show that sex worker's success in not alienating herself during the interaction is not due to personal idiosyncrasy, but deeply rooted in the conditions of modernity.


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Abstract--YinBin Ning's papers

Sex Work and Modernity (Second Essay): A Goffmanian Interpretive Analysis

Taiwan: A Radical Quarterly in Social Studies. 55 (Sep 2004): 141- 224.

This long essay conducts a Goffmanian interpretive analysis of many aspects of the phenomena and interactions in sex work, often misconstrued by the received interpretation as the expressions of victimization, alienation or immorality inherent in the sex work, which are now reinterpreted basically as sex workers’ effort to maintain the boundary of the self and the routine of work. Under this light, the seemingly uncommon doings of sex workers are nothing but usual techniques in interpersonal interaction or self-presentation, and methods widely employed by modern organization in management and disciplining. This Goffmanian interpretive analysis locates the problematic of sex work at the heart of contemporary critical social theory, focusing on such issues as labor process, public/private sphere, the rationalization of modern organization, modern self, discipline and surveillance, and so on.


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Abstract--YinBin Ning's papers

Is Sex Work really "Work"? -- Marx's Theory of Commodity and the Social Constructionism of Sex Work

Taiwan: A Radical Quarterly in Social Studies. 46 (September 2002): 87-139.

Is Sex Work really "Work"?  A somewhat rhetorical inquiry may be reformulated as: What is the distinct and essential nature of sex work that distinguishes it from other kinds of so-called "real" work?  These questions are shown to be totally misguided in the present paper through first attempting, in an analytical philosophy approach, to establish some criteria to capture the distinct essence of sex work, and then demonstrating counterexamples that reveal the socially constructed nature of sex work.  The thesis of social constructionism of sexuality or homosexuality is shown to be valid when extended to sex work.  The identity and identifying characteristics of sex work are shown to be constructed within a constellation of knowledge/power.  Such a line of argument is strengthened by Marx's theory of commodity, which is interpreted as a wider version of social constructionism of commodity/service work in the present paper.


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Abstract--YinBin Ning's papers

Towards A Multi-Cultural Perspective in Sexuality Education:Education as Sexuality Education, and Sexuality Education as Education

The International Conference on the Theory and Practice of Multicultural Education.  May 31, 1997.  Sponsored by the Department of Education of Taiwan Normal University.

Starting with the concept of the hidden curriculum as espoused by Michael W. Apple as well as with the Foucauldian ideas of discipline and the deployment of sexuality, the present paper explores first the sexual implications of the usual practices in education. In other words, education in general has always already been sexuality education. Then we will examine the history and underlying principles of mainstream sex education in order to demonstrate that sex education has always been practiced and thought as “an exception” in education, and hence cannot be treated as other “ordinary” education to which the basic ideals of the multicultural and democratic education can be applied. All the valid and valuable principles of education, e.g. empowering students to negotiate and create their own lives (including sexual lives), or encouraging student freely to express and exchange their feelings and experience concerning the subject (sexual or not), are no longer seen applicable in sex education. In other words, sexuality educations is not seen as simply education or as part of multicultural education in which sexual minorities are treated as other types of minorities. At the end, in light of ongoing Science Studies, we suggest a paradigm shift in the research of sexuality education and sexology.

(By Yin-Bin Ning and Josephine Ho) 


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Abstract--YinBin Ning's papers

Idiosyncratic Sexuality and The Social Construction of Sexuality:Towards A Theory of Sexual Emancipation

Visionary Essays in Sexuality/Gender Studies: Proceedings of the First Annual Conference On Sexuality Education, Sexology, Trans/Gender Studies and LesBiGay Studies. Vols. One.  Ed. Josephine Ho.  Taipei: Meta Media Publishers, 1997.  109-190.  Also published in Taiwan: A Radical Quarterly in Social Studies.  26 (June 1997): 67-128.

The present essay suggests a way to resolve the seemingly inherent contradiction between the conception of "socially constructed sexuality" and that of "erotic diversity," through an investigation of the nature of erotic idiosyncrasy and various conceptions of socially constructed sexuality. By distinguishing sexual identity from sexual desire, this essay argues that while our sexual identity is socially constructed, erotic diversity in terms of sexual desires cannot be explained by our present culture or social relations. Although my sexual desire/sexual identity distinction comes out of a Freudian tradition, it has now taken a linguistic turn. With the theoretical vehicle provided by Richard Rorty, I argue that, unlike the Freudian opposition between the impulsive power of sexual instinct and the repressive force of civilization, the relation between sexual desire and sexual identity is better understood in the trajectory of the "metaphor." This then leads to the conclusion that a progressive and liberating sexual politics should not aim at the curbing or repression of sexual desires or erotic diversity. Instead, it should work to promote sexual equality by further cultivating and developing erotic diversity and thereby transforming the power context of sexual desires as well as the meaning of sexual identities.  


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Abstract--YinBin Ning's papers

Cultural Politics as 'Real Politics' and Cultural Studies as Applied Philosophy: Cultural Criticism in Taiwan.

International Symposium on Cultural Criticism.  January 1993.  Sponsored by The Chinese University of Hong Kong.  Around 1988, one year after martial law was lifted, a kind of cultural criticism, the kind that is perceived as somehow related to the 'cultural studies' in the academies of the west, began to appear in feuilletons of minor newspapers in Taiwan. As it quickly moved into major newspapers and intellectual-oriented magazines, this new kind of cultural criticism became a fashionable and prominent genre. Subsequently, it not only acquired a limited status of legitimacy in the academy but also came to signify an alternative politics for the new social movements burgeoning in Taiwan. The present paper is my effort to provide an account for the development and, more importantly, the politics of this cultural criticism. On the whole, I shall in this paper spell out the articulatory politics of cultural criticism in the context of the complex relations between Taiwan's opposition party and the new social movements as well as in the context of the changing role of feuilletons in Taiwan's newspapers.  

Besides accounting for the development of cultural criticism thus far in Taiwan, I shall mention something that has to do with the future development of such a cultural criticism. The English departments in Taiwan, which have been the locomotive for importing and propagating cultural studies, have a legitimation problem in justifying themselves for doing cultural studies on the local culture, since local culture is perceived as having little to do with the study of the English language/literature. A way that might help the legitimation of cultural studies as an interdisciplinary practice in the academies of Taiwan would be to broaden the base of cultural studies by articulating the need of doing cultural studies within other disciplines. I shall suggest that it may be well for the philosophy departments or institutes in Taiwan to start engaging in cultural studies as an applied philosophy.  


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Abstract--YinBin Ning's papers

Althusser's Structuralist Model

Humanities.  121994.6: 131-143.

Many Marxists in recent years have tried to resist an economic reductionist interpretation of historical materialism, but at the same time insist that the economic is in some sense ultimately determinant. Most of them view society as a complex whole in which the various instances (aspects) of society are closely connected. The French philosopher Louise Althusser is probably the most influential one among those Marxists.  

Unlike the usual interpretation of historical materialism, which is based on an essentialist, two-tiered explanatory model, Althusser's model is anti-essentialist and one-tiered. For Althusser, the society or the social formation is a structured whole, in which the economic is determinant in the last instance. Under this model, things are not explained by a single, pure contradiction, but always by the whole structure. The purpose of this paper is to explicate these ideas of Althusser's and to attempt to critically make sense of his structuralist model.  


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Abstract--YinBin Ning's papers

The Nominalism/Realism Controversy:The Case of Social Construction of Homosexuality

Southern Taiwanese Philosophical Studies Conference 1997.  September 13, 1997.   Sponsored by the Graduate School of Chung-Zheng University.

Following Foucault and the social constructionists, Ian Hacking expounds the meaning of "making up people" against the background of the philosophical controversy of "nominalism vs. realism". This article traces Hacking's position to his earlier treatment of this topic, as well as his relation to other philosophers of science such as Hilary Putnam and Thomas Khun. However, from the point of view of radical (queering) gay and lesbian movement, there are some theoretical weaknesses inherent in Hacking's position.    


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Abstract--YinBin Ning's papers

On Viagra: Modern Drug-Use and Body Management

Taiwan: A Radical Quarterly in Social Studies.  33(March 1999): 225-252.

In the popular discourse, Viagra has been represented as risky business that could endanger men's health, women's sexuality and body, family harmony, gender equity, sexual morality, etc. The risk of Viagra, although constructed partially for the social control of sexuality, in fact has its origin in modernity. In this essay, Viagra will be analyzed from the perspective developed by A. Giddens and U. Beck concerning risk and reflexive modernity. I argue that different from traditional aphrodisiacs, Viagra is a genuine modern "sex drug". The use of Viagra is not really different from other modern drug-uses, although Viagra has not reached full modernization because of its characteristics as a sex drug.Modern drug-use is part of modern life and is body management for the purpose of meeting various demands of daily life. In this way, modern drug-use implies choices of life style. Hence, the politics of modern drug-use includes life politics.The risk of modern drug-use is part of the risk of modern life. This essay argues that today it is difficult to distinguish individual drug-use from drug-abuse. This essay also shows that the agency of modern drug-(ab)user cannot be reduced to the structural effect of "capital-state-science" institutions of drug. For this reason, the orthodox "medicalization critique" is seen as oversimplified.In the analysis and criticism of the popular discourse on Viagra, this essay celebrates the aesthetic dimension in the abuse (excess) of Viagra.


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