Sexualising Citizenship? A Critical Consideration of Contemporary Youth Policy in the UK

Allison Moore, Phil Prescott

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    The centrality of active participation in and making positive contributions to one’s community has to be seen in the light of New Labour’s modernisation agenda and the emphasis on participation at a local level in democratic and active citizenry (McGhee, 2003). This is most clearly exemplified by Youth Matters (2005). This paper seeks to destablise the categorisation of ‘childhood’, ‘youth’ and ‘adulthood’ as discrete life stages and challenges the movement or “transition” between these fictional categories as necessarily linear and progressive. What are currently viewed as transitions to adulthood and citizenship are inescapably heteronormative: the movement to a defined category is not simply about becoming an adult but about becoming a man or a woman and conforming to compulsory hetersosexuality. Human ‘development’ in any form is not linear, staged or ‘complete’, nor are humans in reality confined and defined by the very notion of transition. ‘Youth Matters’ and contemporary youth policy and practice in the UK see privacy, space, safety and agency, specifically in terms of the invention of young people’s sexual narratives, as premiums that will not be paid for. This same policy and practice, on the one hand, surveils, demonises and problematises young people and, on the other, individualises, responsibilises and scapegoats them. If age, ‘developing’ competence and the movement from one socially constructed stage to the next are the measurements by which young people are judged and responded then their right to a chosen and fully represented sexual citizenship be respected. Drawing specifically on Bourdieuan theory this paper is part of the authors’ ‘speculative scoping’ for a research project exploring young lesbian and gay men’s transition to (sexualised) citizenship to identify whether they see that age, competence and transition are constructs that create barriers to the adulthoods and sexualities they may actually have invented.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2010
    Event1st Global Conference: Childhood - Oxford, United Kingdom
    Duration: 3 Jun 20105 Jun 2010


    Conference1st Global Conference: Childhood
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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