, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 65-86

What do people do with porn? Qualitative research into the comsumption, use, and experience of pornography and other sexually explicit media

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Abstract

This article reviews qualitative research into the consumption of pornography and other sexually explicit media emerging from a range of subject areas. Taking a critique of quantitative methods and a focus on measuring sexual effects and attitudes as a starting point, it considers the proposition that qualitative work is more suited to an examination of the complex social, cultural, and political constructions of sexuality. Examining studies into the way men, women, and young people see, experience, and use explicit media texts, the article identifies the key findings that have emerged. Qualitative work shows that sexually explicit media texts are experienced and understood in a variety of ways and evoke strong and often contradictory reactions, not all of which are represented in public debates about pornography. These texts function in a range of different ways, depending on context; as a source of knowledge, a resource for intimate practices, a site for identity construction, and an occasion for performing gender and sexuality. The article reviews these studies and their findings, identifying what they suggest about directions for future research, both in terms of developing methodology and refining approaches to sexuality and media consumption.