Course:LIBR559A/Albury (2013).

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Albury, K. (2013). Young people, media and sexual learning: Rethinking representation. Sex Education-Sexuality Society and Learning, 13(sup1), S32-S44. doi:10.1080/14681811.2013.767194


This paper argues that media's role in the context of sexual learning must be approached holistically: in the process of analyzing how students utilize various media to learn about sex and sexuality, researchers and educators must take care to look not just at sources individually, but how different sources affect each others' messaging and uptake. Their supporting evidence is the interviews they conducted with educators wherein the educators discussed that their students were themselves engaging with media holistically. Traditional academic analysis methods (e.g. classifying representations of sex, gender, or role models as positive or negative and working from that) are not necessarily sufficient to evaluate how young people, media sources, and sexual learning interact with each other. "If we take Sedgwick’s reparative reading into account, the key task is not to explain whether particular texts might be ‘empowering’ or ‘demeaning’, but to explore what it is that young people do with these texts." (p. S42).

This paper’s primary weakness was that the researchers only interviewed educators. They address this in a note at the end of the article: "The second stage of the project will involve two rounds of focus group discussions with young people attending state high schools in NSW. The first round will invite students to reflect on the kinds of information they have received from both formal and informal sex education resources, including teachers, friends, parents and media." (p. S43). It may also be beneficial to consult parents to obtain their perceptions of where their children receive messages about sex and sexuality, as well as what they perceive their roles to be.

Given librarians' and the role of Library and Information Science as a field in looking at the evolution of information uptake, this article presents an important case for librarians to help guide information seeking behavior education for educators and students alike. By providing resources (literature, YouTube and other New Media "reader (or perhaps better labeled, consumer) advisory" lists) and education opportunities (in-library classes, outreach programs to educators within community school districts), libraries and librarians can be proactive in identifying and addressing the needs of their constituents.

Areas / Topics / Keywords

media studies; cultural studies; sexuality education; representation; digital media

Page Author: Peter Musser