Identity, discourse and practice : a qualitative case study of young people and their sexuality
This research is based on a case study of young people's identities, practices and discourses, and takes sexuality as a focus for interrogation. It aims to reveal the issues and processes that impact on young people's conceptions of self (both current and future) by looking at private and public realms of experience. In so doing, social lives, home lives and schooling (particularly sex education), are explored to reveal how far they operate in young people's interest. Lack of acknowledgement of young people's authentic lives in mainstream debates and practice forms a main focus of my critique. I adopt a qualitative methodology that is congruent with feminist principles for research, and am committed to exposing the knowledge creation process. Data are deployed from observations and interviews with 15 - 16 year old, African-Caribbean, Pakistani, Somali and white, secondary school students. Data from other sites provides corroboration and comparison. The thesis challenges the various critiques and representations of youth and argues for a dynamic model of understanding based on appreciating the connectedness between 'concrete' and 'generalised' constructs of identity and practice. The theoretical base is provided through a reading of Foucault, Giddens, Smith, Habermas, and Benhabib. Concepts of 'expert systems', 'colonisation' (Habermas 1986, 1987), 'fabrication' (Ball 1997), and 'fateful episodes' (Giddens 1991) have been given specific scrutiny. The resulting analysis is used to make recommendations for practice, policy and research in sex education.