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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Kinky Sexual Subcultures and Virtual Leisure Spaces

Wignall, Liam (2018) Kinky Sexual Subcultures and Virtual Leisure Spaces. Doctoral thesis, University of Sunderland.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)


This study seeks to understand what kink is, exploring this question using narratives and experiences of gay and bisexual men who engage in kink in the UK. In doing so, contemporary understandings of the gay kinky subcultures in the UK are provided. It discusses the role of the internet for these subcultures, highlighting the use of socio-sexual networking sites. It also recognises the existence of kink dabblers who engage in kink activities, but do not immerse themselves in kink communities.
A qualitative analysis is used consisting of semi-structured in-depth interviews with 15 individuals who identify as part of a kink subculture and 15 individuals who do not. Participants were recruited through a mixture of kinky and non-kinky socio-sexual networking sites across the UK. Complimenting this, the author attended kink events throughout the UK and conducted participant observations.
The study draws on subcultural theory, the leisure perspective and social constructionism to conceptualise how kink is practiced and understood by the participants. It is one of the first to address the gap in the knowledge of individuals who practice kink activities but who do so as a form of casual leisure, akin to other hobbies, as well as giving due attention to the increasing presence and importance of socio-sexual networking sites and the Internet more broadly for kink subcultures. Community and non-community members were shown to possess similarities as well as distinct differences. The Internet was shown to play a significant role in all participants’ kink narratives.
The research calls for further explorations of different aspects of the UK kink subculture which recognises the important role of the Internet for kink practitioners in shaping both the offline and online kink communities. The study also calls for research related to kink practitioners who are not embedded within subcultural kink communities.

Liam Wignall Thesis.pdf - Accepted Version

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Depositing User: Barry Hall


Item ID: 8825

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Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2018 11:01
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2020 03:38


Author: Liam Wignall

University Divisions

Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries


Media > Media and Cultural Studies

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