How to investigate sexuality ?

To complement our note of the reading on the Sociology of sexuality of Michel Bozon, we propose to return, from the companion site of the book Survey on sexuality in France. Practices, gender and health Nathalie Bajos and Michel Bozon in, (Discovery, 2006), on the conditions in which it is conducting a survey on sexuality.

The survey “Context of Sexuality in France” (investigation of CSF) was performed in 2006 by INSERM and INED, under the scientific responsibility of Nathalie Bajos and Michel Bozon. It is the third national survey of sexual behaviour in France. It was conducted with a random sample of the population aged 18 to 69 years. In total, 12 of 364 individuals were surveyed. It is a telephone survey, for which we can note the high rate of participation in the survey (74.6 per cent), the low dropout rate in the course of the survey (3.6%), high satisfaction rates of the respondents (90% of them expressed interest in the survey).

As can be read on the companion site, a concern methodological with the design and procurement of the questionnaire, in order to guarantee the reliability of the responses. One key to a field, where the pervasiveness of ideas about what sexuality should be, and the reluctance to reveal the practices of the intimate, the risk of direct responses.

Number of precautions have been taken to enable responses to be reliable, that is to say responses that reflect the practices and views of the interviewees and not those that they think are socially rewarding. In this regard, you can read the article of André Béjin, on female masturbation (” female masturbation : an example of estimation and analysis of the sub-statement of practice “, Population, n°48, 1993, pp. 1437-1450)[1],which illustrates how some surveys are more difficult to address and operate than others.

To guard against false declarations, the following precautions have been implemented :

► a legal point of view and ethics, the anonymity of a survey is mandatory, but it is also a fundamental condition for people to feel truly confident.

► the letter-announcement of Inserm indicated that this was a scientific research with the purpose of helping to better define the prevention. Number of people contacted and agreed to contribute to a company that they perceived as helpful and understood the issue of giving accurate answers.

► the interviewers have all been trained in the scientific issues and ethical implications of this research by the researchers themselves.

► it was asked to the interviewee to want to isolate themselves, to respond to the inquiry, and any answer could only be interpretable by a third person, possibly present at the time of the interview (sample answer: agree /…not agree at all, yes/no/ I don’t know, 0/1/2/3 or more, etc).

For more information :

  • The survey site, where you will find a video recalling the methodological issues of the investigation : how to query with the elderly in an institution, the how to question of the young miners ?
  • An article by Michel Bozon ” The filter of the media or the receipt of a survey on sexuality “, you can return to the reception, which was made in the press about the investigation : what are the themes taken up and failed in the reviews ? How will the survey appear in the press ? It appears that if the figures are repeated, the manner in which they are constructed, or interpretations are data are not listed. Studying the reception of a survey on the sexuality learns a lot about the way society saw sexuality on the media coverage of sexuality.


[1] dontBaptiste Coulmont reported.

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