What is sexual capital?

Dana Kaplan, Eva Illouz

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This book does to sex what other sociologists did to culture: it shows that sex, no longer defined by religion, now plays a role in the economy and can yield tangible benefits in the realms of money, status, and occupation. How do people accumulate sexual capital, and what are the returns for investing money, time, knowledge, and energy in establishing and enhancing our sexual selves? Dana Kaplan and Eva Illouz disentangle the current cultural politics of heterosexual life, arguing that sex – that messy amalgam of sexual affects and experiences – has increasingly assumed an economic character. Some may opt for plastic surgery to beautify their face or body, while others may consume popular sex advice or attend seduction classes. Beyond particular practices such as these, the authors trace an emerging form of “neoliberal” sexual capital, which is the ability to glean self-appreciation from sexual encounters and to use this self-value to foster employability, as exemplified by Silicon Valley sex parties. --
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge, UK; Medford, MA
PublisherPolity Press
Number of pages143
ISBN (Print)1509552316, 1509552324, 1509552782, 9781509552313, 9781509552320, 9781509552788
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Originally published in 2021 in German by Suhrkamp, Berlin.


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