What is sexual capital?

Dana Kaplan, Eva Illouz

»The sphere of sexuality is barely distinguishable from the sphere of production anymore.«

It is not nature that determines our ideas about sexuality, but society. Whereas it was religion that regulated sex in the past, today it is the economy. No wonder, then, that »sexual« or »erotic capital« has become a common metaphor in sociology, gender studies, sexology and even in everyday language to describe the motives and consequences of practices to increase sexual attractiveness, for example.

In their concise book, enriched with numerous examples, Dana Kaplan and Eva Illouz defend the concept of sexual capital as an analytical category, but make it more complex and free it from gender clichés as well as from rationalist and identity-political short-cuts. They show that sexual capital can take different, historically conditioned forms, which at times also coexist. Their main focus is on the specifics of neoliberal sexuality, which is accompanied by its very own kind of sexual capital. Which has long since been circulating not only in the sphere of private intimate relations, but in the entire sphere of capitalist reproduction. From this perspective, the question of class and gender hierarchies consequently appears in a new light. - Suhrkamp

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