Liverpool Law Review

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 69–91 | Cite as

Public Space, Public Morality: The Media Construction of Sex in Public Places

  • Sean Hennelly


Public sex has been the focus of a number of academic texts in recent years, but while some comment more generally on how the media have presented specific forms of public sexual activity, it remains unclear how the media have constructed these undertakings. The phenomenon consists of a number of subcultures aimed at providing sexual enjoyment in public settings in different ways. There has been evidence that those engaging in public sex undertake significant risk that, while motivating for those taking part, can lead to a number of tragic consequences. Some of these consequences include physical attacks by members of the public as well as susceptibility to robbery and even abduction. This article will explore one of the possible reasons behind an unfavourable view of public sex in the public conscience- the mass media, and in particular, newspapers in the United Kingdom. The way in which the media have constructed various forms of public sex will be explored, as well as the information provided in reports, and in particular, the detailing of locations of Public Sex Environments (PSEs).


Public sex Mass media Public space Public perception 



This article was developed from the paper ‘Public Sex and the Law: The Current Situation and Media Coverage’ delivered at the Annual Conference of the Socio-Legal Studies Association in April 2009. The author wishes to thank those that helped develop the ideas for this article through discussion, and would like to thank in particular Chris Ashford and Vanessa Munro.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of LawUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterEngland, UK

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