Strategies of resisting the stigma of HIV in contemporary Anglo-American society : a sociological study
The thesis investigates particular micrological strategies of resistance which have coalesced around the stigma of the HIV virus in the context of the AIDS crisis. 'Western' AIDS is a disease that has mainly affected homosexual populations; such micrological strategies have thus been mainly articulated by different factions of the subculture. Homosexual behaviour has been systematically constrained. Homosexuality has been demonised by Christian discourse, criminalised by civil society, and medicalised by science. The thesis analyses the different systems of oppression that the homosexual body has been subjected to as a framework for the development of the analysis of current strategies of resistance to the stigma inherent in homosexual embodiment. The stigma of deviant sexuality has been magnified by the advent of the transmission of a potentially deadly virus through the enactment of (homo)sexuality. The thesis is both empirical as well as theoretical. Qualitative analysis techniques have been employed in order to investigate how specific micrological strategies of resistance have colluded and interacted in the construction of individual identities largely forged around HIV. On a subcultural dimension both 'spontaneous' and 'conscious' resistance projects have been analysed not only on a symbolic level, but in relation to their particular role in individual processes of identity construction. 'Spontaneous' resistance projects represent resistance strategies that emanate from the grassroots of the affected constituency whereas 'conscious' resistance projects constitute culturally or structurally elaborated strategies that have either emerged from or been appropriated by specific factions of gay community.