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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

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Volume 2017, Issue 218


Toy stories: On the disciplinary regime of vibration

George Rossolatos
Published Online: 2017-07-19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2016-0113


Sex toys promote a new consumptive ethos whose significance may be adequately outlined by attending to the institutional implications of this product category’s consumption. By drawing on Foucault’s theory of sexuality and the technologies of the self that materialize with the aid of discursive formations about sexuality, as well as on relevant sociological and ethnographic insights, I undertake a qualitative content analysis on a corpus of 100 sex toys’ product reviews from popular magazines and web sites in order to identify how the discourse about sex toys is articulated in terms of three dominant categories of sexual scripts (Simon and Gagnon 2007, Sexual scripts. In Richard Parker & Peter Aggleton (eds.), Culture, society, and sexuality: A reader, 29–38. London: Routledge), namely, cultural scenarios, interpersonal and intrapsychic scripts. By opening up the discussion to a broader cultural terrain, I outline how the consumption experience of sex toys, as articulated in the reviews’ discursive formations, facilitates the emergence of new consumer trends, particularly with reference to orgasm-on-the-go and no-touch-orgasm, while redefining existing ones.

Keywords: Foucault; sexuality; discourse analysis; qualitative content analysis; consumer culture


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About the article

Published Online: 2017-07-19

Published in Print: 2017-09-26

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2017, Issue 218, Pages 145–164, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2016-0113.

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