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Discourses on Sexual Responsibility, Fatherhood and Masculinity among Young Men from Lower Socio-Economic Groups

Research Staff

Dr. Elizabeth Nixon, Dr. Padraic Whyte, Joe Buggy

About the Project


The aim of this research was to explore attitudes and behaviours relating to sexual responsibility, fatherhood and masculinity among young men aged 17 to 25 years from lower socio-economic groups. The research also sought to explore representations of sexual responsibility, fatherhood and masculinity in the popular media which young men watched or read, and examine the influence of these representations on young men’s sexual responsibility and fathering behaviours..

What did the research involve?

The research entailed a multi-stage and cumulative process involving:

  • Literature Review of relevant national and international research and policy documents pertaining to sexual activity and responsibility and fatherhood among young men from lower socio-economic groups. The literature review was set within a broad theoretical focus upon recent and burgeoning work on masculinities within areas such as cultural studies, media studies and psychology.
  • Focus Group discussions with 15 young men (17-25 years) and 15 women (17-25 years) from lower socio-economic groups. The aim of the focus groups was to gain insight into the vocabulary, attitudes and sexual activities of this group and identify the specific media they watch and read relating to sexual responsibility, masculinity and fatherhood. One of the main aims of the focus group phase of the research was to examine the potential range of influences on young men’s thinking and behaviour.
  • Close Textual Analysis: Having identified the popular media to which young men are most frequently exposed, a close textual analysis of selected media was undertaken to explore inherent gender ideologies and representations of masculinity, fatherhood and sexual responsibility.
  • Semi-structured interviews were conducted with two groups of sexually active young men, age 17 to 25 years, from lower socio-economic groups: one group who were fathers (n = 20), and one group who had not become fathers (n = 20). The aim of the semi-structured interviews was to explore experiences of and perspectives on sexual activity and fatherhood, and related responsibilities. A key focus of the interviews was how popular representations of masculinity in the media are adopted or rejected in the young men's own performance of masculinities, specifically in relation to fatherhood and sexual responsibility.

Final products of the research

A final report is currently being prepared.

Funded By

Crisis Pregnancy Agency

Last updated 15 March 2010 by The Children′s Research Centre (Email).