Dissertation Abstracts

Adolescents knowledge on sexuality: sources and negotiations.

Author: Wozniak, Maria M, marysia.wozniak@gmail.com
Department: Institute of Applied Social Sciences
University: University of Warsaw, Poland
Supervisor: prof M Fuszara
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: polish

Keywords: sexuality , youth , sexuality education , adolescents
Areas of Research: Youth , Women in Society , Education

Abstract

The debate concerning youth sexuality in Poland is focused mostly around issues of
sexuality education. Particularly on trying to answer questions about the 'most
appropriate' educational program and form in which it should be taught. The discourse is
however dominated by the voices of adults belonging to political and symbolic elites (i.e.
politicians, teachers, scholars, clergy). Thus, the actual opinions of young people which
reflect authentic, personal and generational needs are being largely ignored.
I aim to discover the sources which young people use in order to gain their knowledge on sexuality and trace how they evaluate them. By focusing on the role the family, peers and Media (most importantly the Internet) play in this process I am also trying to trace how they negotiate the gained knowledge and in what way it influenced their past decisions. The core part of my thesis is however the current state of sexuality education in Poland known by the
name “preparation for family life”, which, according to the polish legislation system, is
implemented in schools at three basic educational levels. Referring to the World Health
Organization’s and United Nations official guidelines and the first stage of my own
research project based on qualitative interviews with young people, I want to show
the necessity of hearing young peoples’ voices in deciding upon the shape which
sexuality education should take. My project also sheds some light on the way young people internalize, as it seems still very traditional, gender roles and how this influences their management of chosen sexual scripts.
Furthermore, it will be of importance to discuss whom young people consider as
significant others in the choice of alternative sexual scripts and what is the impact of
these authorities on the actual sexual practices and meanings attributed to the sexual
sphere of individuals. In order to gain more insight on the backgound and provide a fuller understanding of the researched topic I am also conducting IDI's with sexuality educators and "preparation forfamily life " teachers, patricipant observation of "preparation for family life"classes and I am a postgraduate student in sexuality education. All these points are designed to facilitate the construction of a tailor made sexuality educational program, which will meet young people’s expectations,
simultaneously providing them with reliable knowledge, based on up to date scientific
research.

Method: 35-40 IDI's with young people in their senior years, or recent graduates; 15 IDI's with sexuliaty educators and "preparation for family life" teachers"; participant observation of "preparation for family life" classes

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