Who's afraid of sex at school? The politics of researching culture, religion and sexuality at school

Allen, Louisa and Rasmussen, Mary Lou and Quinlivan, Kathleen and Aspin, Clive and Sanjakdar, Fida and Bromdal, Annette (2012) Who's afraid of sex at school? The politics of researching culture, religion and sexuality at school. International Journal of Research and Method in Education, 37 (1). pp. 31-43. ISSN 1743-727X


This paper explores the methodological politics of researching at the intersections of sexuality, culture and religion in secondary schools. It draws on experiences during a project concerned with how to address cultural and religious diversity in sexuality education in Australia and New Zealand. The paper focuses on two methodological sticking points, one occurring inside academia and the other outside, in schools. The first coheres around the process of gaining ethics approval from multiple institutional committees and the second accesses schools for participation. These sticking points are conceptualized as effects of a set of discursive and material constraints which are idiosyncratic to school-based sexualities research. We argue that discourses of sexuality and young people are mobilized in both spaces and intersect with a social moment of ‘risk anxiety’ in ways that shape the methodological possibilities of the research. These discourses serve to constitute sexualities research as ‘risky’ and ‘controversial’, an image which impedes the generation of new knowledge in the field. By rendering challenges of this research visible and discursively deconstructing the reasons for them, we refuse to dismiss school-based sexualities research as ‘too hard’. Instead, we aim to keep this topic firmly on the educational research agenda by alerting researchers to its challenges so they may prepare for them.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to Published version due to Publisher copyright policy.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Education
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2016 23:10
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2016 00:40
Uncontrolled Keywords: sexualities; schooling; ethics committees; risk; multi-sited research
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130302 Comparative and Cross-Cultural Education
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220405 Religion and Society
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130308 Gender, Sexuality and Education
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950404 Religion and Society
Funding Details:
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1080/1743727X.2012.754006
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/28330

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