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Exploring young people's digital sexual cultures through creative, visual and arts-based methods

Marston, Kate 2020. Exploring young people's digital sexual cultures through creative, visual and arts-based methods. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis explores how digital technologies such as social media, smart devices and gaming platforms are shaping young people’s sexual cultures. While the majority of research on young people’s digital sexual cultures has maintained a narrow focus on risk and harm, and limited what digital practices are considered relevant and for whom, this thesis contributes to a growing body of scholarship that seeks to support children and young people to navigate the complexities of an ever-changing digital sexual age. I worked with a socio-economically and culturally diverse sample of twenty-five young people aged 11 – 18 years from England and Wales. Rather than focusing on a pre-defined set of digital practices, I set out to foster a creative, curious and open-ended approach that allowed participants to identify which digital practices mattered to them. Over a period of fifteen-months, I employed a range of creative, visual and arts-based methods in group and individual interviews to explore a flexible set of core issues including digital worlds, relationships, networked body cultures and media discourses. Taking inspiration from feminist posthuman and new materialist concepts of ‘assemblage’, ‘affect’, ‘phallogocentricism’ and ‘feminist figurations’, I trace normative articulations of gender and sexuality as well as activate different ways of seeing and relating to young people’s digital sexual cultures. My data highlights the enduring force of heteronormative and phallogocentric power relations in young people’s digital sexual cultures through the publicisation of intimate relations online, social media’s visual culture of bodily display and gendered harassment online. However, it also maps ruptures and feminist figurations that displace vision away from the heteronormative and phallogocentric mode. I illustrate how young people’s digital sexual cultures can be the site of unexpected and unpredictable relations that move beyond normative notions of (hetero)sexuality and towards possibilities for re-imagined sexualities that exceed heteronormative and phallogocentric norms.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 December 2020
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2020 14:41

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