Argot and the Creation of Social Types in a Young Gay Community

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This study investigates the existence of various social types in a young gay community (I 7-24 age group) located in the southeastern United States. The social types are identified “emically” through the use of a specific domain of knowledge, gay argot. Gay terms and expressions are grouped using a method similar to factor analysis to locate specific dimensions of behavior in this community. A central concern of this paper is to determine how the concept of “binary opposition” operates among the resulting social types. Binary opposition, which has been identified in studies constructing other folk taxonomies (classification schemes created from the participants' perspective), means that for every entity created in the taxonomy there must be an opposite to that entity (an example would be the “butch-femme” distinction among lesbians). Next, through interviews we investigate the specific attributes that define each of the resulting social types. Finally, we employ componential analysis to determine if there is any logical scheme operating among the types.