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Spelets regler: raggning och flirt på krogen
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2008 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis focuses on sexualized behaviour in nightclubs and pubs. It describes the patterns of interaction and the rituals characterizing nightlife “clubbing” and “pubbing” environments, and relates these to gender specific norms and ideals. Special focus is on men’s and women’s experiences of, and strategies in, nightlife clubbing environments, as well as on how they regard such behaviours as picking up potential sexual partners (“going on the pull”) and flirting.

The study is based on fieldwork conducted in the nightclubs and pubs of Umeå. The fieldwork consisted of fifty nights out, during which data was collected through observations and participant observation. Ten women and nine men between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-two were interviewed individually or in groups.

The analysis starts with a description of those behaviours that distinguish the club and pub environment as compared with everyday life. The suspension of everyday norms, allows for the relaxed behaviour associated with “partying”, and not least allowing for strangers to have sexualized encounters.

Picking up sexual partners and flirting is analysed at different levels and from different perspectives. The meaning of flirting behaviour is related to discussions of sexual morals. Flirting is seen as a harmless and playful form of behaviour seeped through with notions of love, romance and coupledom. Picking up sexual partners is, on the other hand, behaviour associated with sexual urges, and is thus talked of as a sordid, low-life form of action.

The study includes descriptions of mutually appreciated situations of picking-up and flirting behaviour and also its opposite - rejection behaviours, that seek to deflect and break off attempts at sexualized contact. The observations indicate that men and women use different strategies when participating in such events. Women’s behavioural strategies are premised on a rejecting attitude vis-à-vis men, which reflect ideals of respectability and a more restrictive sexual morale for women. Women’s ability to exert discretion and care in her choice of a man, and to reject unsuitable men, is interpreted as an indication of self-control and self-respect.

Amongst men, “going on the pull” appears to be associated with notions of “conquering”, which in turn is seen as a form of manly performance. “Going on the pull” gives men an opportunity to prove themselves, but is also a source of a feeling of powerlessness and lack of control – as “pulling” needs to be conducted on women’s terms and conditions.

Observations from pubs and clubs in the field, suggest that pretending to reject (token resistance) is a normalized part of women’s strategies. The existence of token resistance reinforces the notion of “a woman’s no means yes” and contributes to the unclear boundaries between rejection and consent. This is evident in situations where women experience unwished-for attentions from men and have difficulty rejecting them.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Boréa , 2008. , 304 p.
Keyword [en]
picking up casual sex partners, flirt, one night stand, ritual, masculinity, femininity, sexuality, romance, Nightclub, pub
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1617ISBN: 978-91-89140-54-7OAI: diva2:141569
Public defence
2008-05-09, Hörsal 102, Beteendevetarhuset, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 10:15
Available from: 2008-04-18 Created: 2008-04-18 Last updated: 2015-02-17Bibliographically approved

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