By Sarah Winkler Reid
Journal of Moral Education
Volume 43, Issue 2, 2014
Special Issue: ‘The good child’: Anthropological perspectives on morality and childhood
The premature sexualisation of young people is a source of intense public anxiety, often framed as an unprecedented crisis. Concurrently, a critical scholarship highlights problematic assumptions underpinning this discourse, including a positioning of young people as morally compromised passive subjects, and a disconnect between the reductionist framework and the complexity of young peoples’ lived experiences. Drawing from ethnographic research in a London school, in this article I argue that by attending to the everyday lives of pupils, a more nuanced picture of moral and sexual change and continuity emerges. Using the framework of ‘ordinary ethics’, which identifies ethics as pervasive in speech and action, I demonstrate the multiple ways by which young people define and act according to what they consider sexually good and right. In this way the analytical focus is shifted from passivity to activity and we can appreciate how young people today are evincing a sexual ethics of force and efficacy.
The entire article is here.