Donna J. Drucker
The Classification of Sex
Alfred Kinsey and the Organization of Knowledge
University of Pittsburgh Press 2014
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in MedicineNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in PsychologyNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books Network March 10, 2015 Lilian Calles Barger
Donna J. Drucker is a guest professor at Darmstadt Technical University in Germany. Her book The Classification of Sex: Alfred Kinsey and the Organization of Knowledge (University of Pittsburg Press, 2014) is an in-depth and detailed study of Kinsey’s scientific approach. The book examines his career and method of gathering vast amounts of data, identifying patterns, and interpretation that was critical to his most influential works Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953). Beginning with Kinsey’s study of the animal world, Drucker examines how he transferred natural science methods to sex education in his Marriage Course at Indiana University, and ultimately to the massive study of human sexual behavior. He brought into the interdisciplinary science of sexology a thoroughly naturalist approach and believed that taxonomy – collecting, classifying and describing patterns, revealed truths about the natural world and worked against what he considered the prejudice of misclassification. Kinsey was committed to scientific objectivity, free of moral judgment he believed possible through unprejudiced observation, the recording of mass data sets, and the application of biometrics. Nevertheless, Kinsey sex research had significant implications for understanding sexual difference between men and women, sexual preference tied to economic class, and the consideration of normal sexual behavior against standing societal norms. Drucker’s work brings attention to the historical contingency of the social and technological process, which produces, encodes and relays information over time. Drucker’s close attention to method and the role of data gathering technology again raises the question regarding the role of science in value formation and recovers Kinsey’s contribution to scientific practice.