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Sexual health issues in adolescents : an examination of the discourses of sexuality within health education


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Winckle, J 2008 , 'Sexual health issues in adolescents : an examination of the discourses of sexuality within health education', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis, ‘Sexual health issues in adolescents: an examination of the discourses of sexuality within health education’, is a feminist poststructural and critical ethnographic investigation of the production of knowledge and gendered subjectivities within a single Tasmanian secondary co-educational government school. The main focus of the research is on the ways in which power operates through dominant teaching practices to constitute particular versions of sexuality as the truth, and to what effect (Foucault 1980).
The research focuses upon teacher and student dominant discursive constructions of knowledge regarding sex, sexuality and sexual decision-making and its impact upon students’ production of gendered subjectivity and the sex education program’s potential for addressing issues of sexual violence, homophobia and sexual health. The thesis argues that current pedagogies within curriculum-based sex education classes reproduce binary versions of gender, which are inequitable and significantly limiting in terms of transforming homophobic, sexist and discriminatory attitudes.
The methodology for this thesis combines the principles of constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz 2000, 2006) and Foucauldian discourse analysis (Carabine 2001) to develop a framework for data collection and analysis which acknowledges how discourses and social practices construct both a representation of experience and a positioning of individuals as gendered subjects (Hiller 1998).
In conclusion, this thesis offers recommendations for an alternative model of curriculum-based sex education informed by feminist poststructuralist theory and based upon a critical pedagogical approach that focuses on the concept of sexual ethics. These recommendations are informed by the knowledge that critical pedagogies can become catalysts for change in the way sex education is currently perceived, by enabling the production of new knowledges, new discourses and new, more equitable pedagogical practices (Kamler 2001).

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Winckle, J
Keywords: Sexual ethics for teenagers, Sexual ethics for youth, Sex instruction for teenagers, Sex instruction for youth
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Copyright 2008 the author

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