9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN23 Sexuality

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Young People and Sexual Health Building I, 1E10

Sexuality and youth biographies: teenage pregnacy revisited

The paper focuses young women who have dropped out from basic and secondary schools and their experiences concerning sexuality and pregnancy. It aims to listening and interpret the voices of these young women. There is a high incidence of teenage pregnancy in Portugal, as the second highest after the UK among 15 European countries and it is seen in public discourses as a social problem. The ambiguous messages apparent in broader public debates sometimes as alarmist, while others involving censorship, compassion or conformity need to be questioned. In he framework to be presented here, they are seen within the context of the more general process of changes to the balance between public life and gender relations during the past decades, favouring a critical approach that promotes alternatives to the views based on psychobiological and pathological factors: teenage pregnancy is defined by the «lack» of information, resources, family and emotional structure etc. The proposed view allows us to perceive how much the lack-centred discourses contribute to the reinforcement and to the reproduction of social inequalities. Moreover, the framework here favours the research of the many meanings and life experiences in connection to socio-cultural and power relations. By questioning the complex and mixed meanings around teenage pregnancy (Almeida et al. 2004, Vilar & Gaspar 1999), it is possible to deconstruct the stereotyped and idealised conceptions of gendered relations and social life, which can help to think about educational strategies for citizenship, a politics of difference that involves diverse social groups, and sexual citizenship (Young 1997; 2000; Lees????) in a context of changing femininities and masculinities. Educational institutions are spaces of transitions and social reproduction, not always directed to the well-being and sexual health of young people. Hence in this paper an interpretation of the experiences and views of young women through their life histories aims at understanding the ways they rehearse and live their sexualities, recognising their claim for inclusion and respect.