Dream on: the logic of sexual practice

Thomson, Rachel (2000). Dream on: the logic of sexual practice. Journal of Youth Studies, 3(4) pp. 407–427.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/713684385


This paper explores the structure of British young peoples' values concerning sexual experience and parenthood within a social context of individualization. Drawing on a conceptual framework derived from the work of Bourdieu, it introduces the idea of a 'logic of sexual practice', arguing that differences in attitudes towards sexual experience and early parenthood can be understood in terms of the particular economy of values of a community. The paper draws on data collected for the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)-funded study 'Youth values: identity, diversity and social change', a multi-method investigation of the moral landscapes of young people aged 11-16 years living in five contrasting areas of the UK. Using data from questionnaires, focus groups and individual interviews, the paper develops two in-depth case studies that document the logic of sexual practice for young people living in an affluent middle class commuter belt town and a deprived public housing estate. The paper explores the part played by sexual values in the development of adult identities and competing understandings of maturity, experience and success.

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