By pretending to be a simple voyeur, Humphreys explains that he systematically observed these activities and even recorded the license plate numbers of a sample of tearoom participants. While the systematic observation part of his study permitted an understanding of the rules and roles, patterns of collective action, and risks of the game associated with impersonal gay sex in public restrooms, his tracking down and interviewing a handful of the subjects allowed Humphreys to better understand the identity, lives, and rationality of those men involved in the so-called tearoom trade. While the author defended the ethics behind his research early on, he was still stunned by the backlash it received. In response to such issues, I will use this post to critically evaluate the strong and weak points of his book.
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Because he passed himself off as a voyeur — one who derives sexual gratification from observing the sex acts of others — he was permitted to watch acts that occurred in bathroom stalls without doors. Among other things, he gathered data on locations, the frequency of acts, the age of the men, the roles they played, and whether money changed hands. He later disclosed his role to some men he had observed and interviewed them on their daily lives.
A year later, after changing his hair and attire, he interviewed these same men in their homes under the guise of conducting an anonymous public health survey. Humphreys reported that he recognized the need to protect the confidentiality of his data.
He never published anecdotes that included identifiers, and he protected his notes carefully. However, he was observing illegal behaviors and if his notes were subpoenaed he might have been arrested and imprisoned for refusing to hand them over. While he always assumed he would refuse to hand over the records, after later spending some time in jail unrelated to the study , Humphreys questioned how long he might have withstood the pressure. Many within the gay community welcomed his research and in some police districts it lead to decreased raids and sodomy arrests.
Questions As a privacy officer, would you approve this study? How would you respond to the argument that there was no privacy violation because the actions of subjects were observed in public restrooms?
A Critical Analysis of Laud Humphrey’s The Tearoom Trade Essay
Perhaps not surprisingly, given the topic, the research was highly controversial, however this was not just due to its sensitive subject matter. A number of criticisms were made of the study on the basis of its ethically dubious research methods. While Warwick , p. Wright Mills Award for research. Following a research paper he wrote on the subject of homosexuality in Humphreys realised that very little research had taken place into the kind of people engaged in this deviant activity. Social scientists have avoided this area of deviant behaviour……..
Laud Humphreys and the Tearoom Sex Study
Laud Humphreys and the Tearoom Sex Study Laud Humphreys, a sociologist, recognized that the public and the law-enforcement authorities hold highly simplistic stereotyped beliefs about men who commit impersonal sexual acts with one another in public restrooms. Humphreys decided that it would be of considerable social importance for society to gain more objective understanding of who these men are and what motivates them to seek quick, impersonal sexual gratification. For his Ph. He stationed himself in "tearooms" and offered to serve as "watchqueen" - the individual who keeps watch and coughs when a police car stops nearby or a stranger approaches. He played that role faithfully while observing hundreds of acts of fellatio.
Laud Humphreys' Tearoom Trade: The Best and Worst of Sociology?