Sexuality and Consumption – 18th Century to 21st Century

International conference, University of Vienna, November 23/24, 2018,

Alte Kapelle, Campus/AAKH, Hof 1.


In western societies today, it goes almost without saying that sex and consumption are closely related. Sexual lifeworlds are highly commodified. On the one hand, there is a plethora of commercial goods and services that shape sexual ideas, desires, and practices. On the other, there are scarcely any products or services that do not lend themselves to sexually charged advertising and mass media communication.

The conference “Sexuality and Consumption” will take a close look at how sex and consumption have interacted since the 18th century. It focuses especially on forms of hybridization. “Sex” and “consumption” are equally suggestive notions that warrant an in-depth discussion about which concepts have been at their core, which meanings have been associated with them and the ways in which they have converged.


Open Doors                      

Welcome Address         

Keynote: Pascal Eitler  

Consuming sex, producing sex - recent interests and open questions in historical research

Coffee break

Panel 1: Legal and social normalisation of homosexuality

Justin Bengry                       
“Get a Move On, Mr. Butler”: The Business of Homosexual Legal Reform
Fred Fejes                            
“Normalizing” Lesbian/Gay Identity Through Consumption: The American Experience in the 1990s.

Lunch break

Panel 2: Sex-work / Sex-markets

Mareen Heying                     
Sex as consumer good in the context of prostitution. The political stance of German and Italian sex workers in the 1980s and 1990s
Elmar Gracher                       
Big business at hidden places - The development of small-scale sex businesses in Cologne between the 1960s and 1980s.
Raphael Reichel                     
"The world's capital of sex" - Negotiations, practices and sites of sexuality and consumption in Pattaya, Thailand.

coffee break                     

Panel 3: Sexualised consumer goods and material culture

Jessica Borge                        
The 1963 Which? Contraceptive Report, British Standard 3704 and anti-commercial action against the condom in 1960s Britain.
Matleena Frisk                      
Male deodorant usage and changing masculinity in the 1960s and early 1970s Finland


Keynote: Christine Haug

Erotic and pornographic reading materials in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries: distribution and consumption

Coffee break                     

Panel 4: The medialisation of sexuality

Heike Steinhoff                     
Licentious Underworlds: The Commodification and Regulation of Sexuality in Antebellum American Popular Culture
Katrin Pilz                             
Consuming sexual health: Viennese sex education films of the 1920s
Anat Rosenberg           
Advertising Sex in Late Victorian Britain

Round up discussion

The event is open to the public, with advance registration requested:

Homepage: https://sexandconsumption.univie.ac.at/