Encountering sex education and imagining positive sex: A discursive exploration of young people’s accounts

Prof Doc Thesis

Murphy, Stephanie Margaret 2012. Encountering sex education and imagining positive sex: A discursive exploration of young people’s accounts. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.3051
AuthorsMurphy, Stephanie Margaret
TypeProf Doc Thesis

This study sought to explore how young people constructed their experience of
sex and relationship education in the school setting, and their expectations of
sexual relations. A Foucauldian-informed discourse analytic approach was
adopted to examine how discourses of sex and sexuality as deployed by young
people are informed by material and social structures, social relations and
institutionalised practices, particularly sex education as delivered in schools, and
how this impacted on possible ‘ways of being’ open to young people. Of
particular interest was how gender and power were implicated in the way young
people constitute their sexual subjectivities, knowledge and practices.
A functional and transformative discourse related to sex was most dominant in
the young peoples’ talk, with young people constructed as enterprising subjects
able to ‘use’ sex to achieve social success. Young people talked their sexual
subjectivities into being within a social sphere that constructed sex as having real
implications for their lived experience, but which was divorced from their
embodied experience.
The findings of the research are discussed in relation to implications for clinical
practice and future research. One of the most pertinent implications is the call by
young people for a more complex understanding of their sexual and gender
identity. Exploration of the wider issues pertaining to, along with the implications
of, a range of sexual behaviours must be articulated and reflected upon in sex
education lessons. Acknowledging the social, psychological, and emotional
complexities of sexuality and sexual experience, as well as the physical, will
enable young people to embody sexual subjectivities that genuinely reflect their
complex lived experience, and provide space to recognise their strengths and
resources in navigating sexual experience.

Keywordssex education; adolescents
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.15123/PUB.3051
Publication dates
PrintMay 2012
Publication process dates
Deposited08 Jul 2013
Publisher's version
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