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Young People's Sexual Cultures in Contemporary Britain

Williams, Helen Elizabeth (2016) Young People's Sexual Cultures in Contemporary Britain. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis is concerned with investigating young people’s sexual cultures in contemporary Britain. Adolescent sexuality has received much attention in academia, the media and government legislation but recently, this problem has been augmented by concerns around the sexualisation of society. Sex and relationship education plays an important role in controlling young bodies and addressing the ‘problem’ of teenage sexuality. The empirical data is obtained from interviews and focus groups with 31 young people in the North East of England. By employing discourse analysis, this project reflects on the discourses available to young people, with particular attention paid to classed and gendered sexual subjectivities. Instead of viewing young people through the lens of sexualisation, that is, as vulnerable and in need of adult protection, the work presented here views young people as the producers of their own distinct cultural practices. Using the insight of young people themselves, this research concludes that the SRE provision in schools continues to be inadequate, irrelevant to the lived experiences of British youth and to perpetuate many of the themes that concern sexualisation discourse. By assuming a white, middle-class, heterosexual subject, the protectionist paradigm of SRE and similar discourses of sexualisation treat young people as a homogenous group and thus, obfuscate the classed and gendered inequalities which allow some young people to be constructed as sexually deviant. I argue that manifestations of femininity are crucial in the building of sexual reputation for both young men and women and the perception of femininity plays a key role in the production of sexual cultures. I contend that discourses of pressure perpetuate gendered inequalities and there is little support in education or wider culture to enable young women to seek ‘pure’ sexual pleasure.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Young people, Sex Education, Sexual Cultures, Pornography, Sexualisation
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Sociology and Social Policy (Leeds)
Depositing User: Ms Helen Elizabeth Williams
Date Deposited: 08 May 2017 11:16
Last Modified: 08 May 2017 11:16
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/17024

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