SRE, Heterosexual Identities and Educational Expectations



This chapter explores teens’ accounts of gendered heterosexual behaviour, intimacy and related values, with reference to educational expectations and aspirations. The empirical data from teens are drawn from across diverse social contexts and show how class and location are heavily implicated in teens’ individualised accounts of the world and trajectories. Although class and gendered heterosexuality are interlocked and inseparable, the focus in this chapter will be on how social class and aspiration link to social identities, educational trajectories and SRE messages, with the following chapter focusing more on gender. The meaning of risky sexual practices and sexual identities are shown to have different meanings within different ‘economies of value’ (Thomson, 2000), with ‘middle-class’ sexuality often regulated differently to ‘working-class’ behaviours and aspirations. However, diversity exists in distinctions within classes as well as between classes as young people assume different identities to those from similar backgrounds. So, while class shapes adolescents’ aspirations and trajectories, it does not entirely determine them and post-16 aspirations and attitudes to sexual practices do not straightforwardly map onto social and classed contexts. Many factors shape teens’ pathways into adulthood and it remains impossible to disentangle the importance of such complex factors.


Young People Sexual Identity Safe Sexual Practice Early Parenthood Educational Aspiration 
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Copyright information

© Sharon Elley 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LeedsUK

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