Larry R. Irons

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Edward W. Bohlander, Jr., John R. Faine, John Miller

Degree Program

Department of Sociology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


This thesis examines the hegemonic function of symbolic structures of relevance as they are related to phenomenological commitments to social change held by voluntary associations of homosexuals. The data base of this investigation consists of the literature of 21 homophile organizations.

Organizations literature is used to facilitate a theoretical adaptation of Alfred Schutz’ discussion of relevance structures which addresses he hegemonic organization of voluntary associations. The concept of relevance structure was implemented to relate predominant orientations within the sociology of deviance to a phenomenological interpretation of group commitment serves as a heuristic device for scrutinizing the instrumental as well as expressive functions fulfilled by relevance structures. These hegemonic components sustain in a “phantasied praxis” within a particularistic world-view. This conception of social praxis was drawn from Antonio Gramsci’s interpretation of a Marxian sociology of knowledge. Subsequently, the relevance structures of each association are juxtaposed to its level of phenomenological commitment as well as its Marxian nature. This operation culminated in the construction of a referent typology which outlines “families” of relevance structure in relation to orientations to phantasied praxis.


Gender and Sexuality | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology