The Sexual Self and Social Work and Policy, or, Why Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Programmes miss the Point


  • Priscilla Dunk-West University of South Australia


teenage pregnancy


This paper reports on a Shutzian phenomological study in which non-problematic sexuality was explored in middle adulthood. It critically evaluates the findings of this study alongside social policies about sexuality. The study found that, firstly, the sexual self in late modernity is constituted through social interaction and secondly that these interactions occur in varying social settings such as through employment and education. George Herbert Mead’s theory of self provides a framework to understand the ways in which social interactions produce the sexual self in late modernity. This application requires a re-orientation of the sexual self as constituted through everyday social exchange. Social policies about sexualities are overwhelmingly focused on a medicalised notion of selfhood. I argue that in order to respond to the late modern sexual self, a re-orientation towards the social is paramount. Ultimately this paper argues that unless policy-makers engage with social science research and scholarship in which the late modern self is theorised using interactionist scholarship, targeted programmes will continue to fall short of providing meaningful intervention that caters for the ways in which contemporary, everyday life is experienced across the lifespan.