Young people's accounts of their experiences with mediated sexual content during childhood and teenage life
2014-09-25T08:13:01Z (GMT) by
Discourses about pornography have grown since the diffusion of print communication and the first erotic representations. In the 80s, the so-called sex wars involved intense debates about pornography s liberating or objectifying nature, while in the 90s, the emergence of porn studies offered a more balanced and contextualized analysis of pornography, highlighting the need for researchers to also focus on the audience s understanding of the experience. Although the majority of research in this field has focused on adults, much of the concern relates to children. To date, however, most of the research relating to children has focused on effects and on potential harm. Audience researchers in Cultural Studies have examined how children understand representations of sex, love and romance, but only in relation to mainstream media. Yet when it comes to pornography in particular, the discussion is to a great extent based on adults assumptions about what is potentially harmful for children. My aim is to approach children s use and interpretation of sexual content in the media through an audience reception approach. In a sense, this brackets off the question of possible risk or harm, in favour of focusing on the nature of the experience itself. My research is based on interviews conducted with young adults (18-22 years old) thinking retrospectively about their experiences with sexual content in childhood and early teenage life. Despite the number of disadvantages this approach may have, this thesis aims to focus on how participants themselves report and account for their actual experiences. Using a basic thematic coding, I consider the self-reported nature and context of young people s experiences. Next, I focus on the discourses used to interpret and contextualize their experiences. Finally, through a narrative approach I examine their constructions of identities in talking about sexuality. In these ways, this thesis wishes to offer new insights into the topic through an audience reception approach that until now has been largely missing from the academic agenda.