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Publication date: 15 January 2021

Mieke Beth Thomeer, Corinne Reczek and Allen J. LeBlanc

Purpose: In this chapter, we develop a concept of social biographies which draws on social network and life course theories to examine how a diverse set of social…

Abstract

Purpose: In this chapter, we develop a concept of social biographies which draws on social network and life course theories to examine how a diverse set of social relationships impacts health of sexual and gender minority (SGM) people over time.

Design/methodology/approach: We provide an overview of several decades of research on SGM people's social relationships, organizing this research within a social biographies framework.

Findings: We theorize about the importance of both the structure and content of SGM people's social networks for health, how these social relationships interact with each other, how these social biographies and their impacts shift across SGM cohorts and over the life course, and how they further are shaped by the intersection of a range of factors (e.g., race/ethnicity, social class).

Social biographies can remain constant or change over time, and relationships of all types and durations have the power to significantly improve or undermine health. This is in part because social ties both buffer and exacerbate the inimical effects of stress on health.

Originality/value: Traditional conceptualizations of relationships fail to reflect the diversity of relationships in SGM lives. Studying this diversity deepens our view of how social biographies influence health and how health inequities between SGM and cisgender and heterosexual (cishet) populations emerge. Studying social biographies of SGM people using theoretical and methodological tools from life course and social network perspectives reveals existing voids in the current literature, enabling researchers to better understand the shifting nature of social relationships in the twenty-first century.

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Book part
Publication date: 15 January 2021

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Sexual and Gender Minority Health
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-147-1

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Book part
Publication date: 15 January 2021

Brea L. Perry and Allen J. LeBlanc

Purpose: The goal of Volume 21 of Advances in Medical Sociology, entitled Sexual and Gender Minority Health, is to showcase recent developments and areas for future…

Abstract

Purpose: The goal of Volume 21 of Advances in Medical Sociology, entitled Sexual and Gender Minority Health, is to showcase recent developments and areas for future research related to the health, well-being, and healthcare experiences of LGBTQA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer, Asexual, and related communities that do not identify as heterosexual) persons and communities.

Approach: In this introduction to the volume, we trace the historical development of research on sexual and gender minority (SGM) health, discussing how priorities, theories, and evidence have evolved over time. We conclude with brief suggestions for future research and an overview of the articles presented in this volume.

Findings: Research on SGM health has flourished in the past two decades. This trend has occurred in conjunction with a period of intense social, political, and legal discourse about the civil rights of SGM persons, which has increased understanding and recognition of SGM experiences. However, recent advances have often been met with resistance and backlash rooted in enduring social stigma and long histories of discrimination and prejudice that reinforce and maintain health disparities faced by SGM populations.

Value: Our review highlights the need for additional research to understand minority stress processes, risk factors, and resiliency, particularly for those at the intersection of SGM and racial/ethnic or socioeconomic marginality.

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