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Sexting ethics in youth digital cultures : risk, shame and the negotiation of privacy and consent.

Setty, Emily (2018) Sexting ethics in youth digital cultures : risk, shame and the negotiation of privacy and consent. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey.

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This thesis explores young people’s perceptions and practices surrounding ‘youth sexting’, particularly regarding privacy and consent. Youth sexting – involving the production and exchange of sexual images or messages via mobile phones and other communication technologies – has attracted media attention, public concern, and research and policy focus for some time, particularly regarding the perceived harmful nature of the practice (Crofts et al., 2015). This thesis situates harmful practices in terms of breaches of privacy and consent. The research is used to advocate for progressive, harm-reduction approaches to responding to youth sexting that centralise ethics, justice and equality, and give rights to sexual and bodily expression and exploration, as well as freedom from harm. Group and one-to-one interviews with young people revealed narratives of individualism and responsibilisation regarding harmful sexting practices. Intertwined were moralising discourses about harm-avoidance, which underpinned a demarcation of deserving and undeserving victims, and promoted victim-blaming. Analyses revealed however, that risk and harm was not inherent to sexting and was shaped by norms and standards surrounding gender and sexuality, and local peer group dynamics and hierarchies. The designation of some forms of bodily and sexual expression as shameful and illegitimate shaped harmful practices and were incorporated into young people’s self-concepts in ways that both reproduced and resisted established systems of meaning. The findings suggest that rather than being caused by technology, youth sexting should be understood as a complex, negotiated practice situated within young people’s peer, digital, relational, and sexual cultures. The thesis explores young people’s perspectives on addressing youth sexting, and concludes by emphasising the need to disrupt and challenge the meanings underpinning shame and stigma, and the responsibilisation of individuals to deal with inequality and harm.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors :
Setty, Emily
Date : 31 January 2018
Funders : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Surrey
Contributors :
Depositing User : Emily Setty
Date Deposited : 01 Feb 2018 08:29
Last Modified : 01 Feb 2018 08:29

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