Deconstructed and Constructive Logics: Explaining Inclusive Language Change in Queer Nonprofits, 1998–2016

Kristopher Velasco, Pamela Paxton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The United States is currently in the midst of a long, historic cultural transformation—redefining our collective representation to be inclusive of diverse sexual and gender identities. A core logic advancing this inclusion is to discursively recognize an expanded set of discrete, deconstructed identities—gay and lesbian expands to LGBT, LGBTQ, LGBTQIA1, and so on. But a newer logic stipulates that inclusion arises through using constructive identities that encompass many fluid experiences under a single term (e.g., “queer”). To understand inclusive change, the authors leverage a unique mesolevel site of cultural (re)production: service and advocacy nonprofit organizations. Using event history models, the authors investigate inclusive language change by 735 organizations from 1998 to 2016. They supplement analyses of administrative data with semistructured interviews with 13 nonprofit leaders, providing converging evidence. Findings showcase how bottom-up, horizontal, and top-down pressures explain both the inclusion of discrete identity labels and the shift to constructive logics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1267-1310
Number of pages44
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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