Sex(t) Talk: A Qualitative Analysis of Young Adults’ Negotiations of the Pleasures and Perils of Sexting

Abstract

To date, there has been much quantitative research conducted on sexting, often with a focus on investigating its prevalence among young people and which also typically presents the behaviour as deviant and risky. As a result, less is known about the everyday nature of sexting, and the various reasons and motivations regarding why individuals engage in the behaviour beyond a simplistic framing of the behaviour as risky and deviant. The present study was qualitative in nature, involving in-depth interviews with 40 young people aged 18–25 years, exploring their perceptions and experiences of sexualised culture. Sexting was a topic of discussion and it is this issue that is the focus of this paper. Interviews revealed the different encounters in which sexting occurred including within the contexts of casual sexual, dating and intimate relationships, and in a non-sexual peer context with friends, in addition to the varied motivations, reasons, and feelings associated with these experiences. Findings therefore provide further understanding and knowledge of the everyday and varied nature of sexting, contributing to the emerging research literature focusing on a qualitative approach that explores everyday negotiations and experiences of sexting and which moves discussions beyond focussing primarily on prevalence, risk and harm.

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Burkett, M. Sex(t) Talk: A Qualitative Analysis of Young Adults’ Negotiations of the Pleasures and Perils of Sexting. Sexuality & Culture 19, 835–863 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-015-9295-0

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Keywords

  • Sexting
  • Young adults
  • Qualitative
  • Sexualised culture
  • Consent