‘Porn literacy’ as pedagogy? : key stakeholder perspectives on understanding and responding to young people's engagement with internet pornography : a dissertation presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand

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Youth encounters with Internet pornography (IP) have led to global concern regarding the healthy sexual socialisation of youth. A growing body of critical research recognises young people as agentic political actors in their sexual socialisation with legitimate knowledge of their own experiences, and seeks to understand their perspectives alongside those of influential adults in their lives. Grounded in social constructionist thinking, my research extends this emerging body of knowledge. I investigate how key stakeholders (16-18-year-olds, caregivers, and educators) account for and discursively construct youth engagement with IP, and explore their perspectives on porn literacy education. The central premise of this scholarship is to determine how such knowledge might translate positively for young people through sexuality education that recognises their lived realities. Key stakeholders were recruited from nine schools across the North Island of Aotearoa, New Zealand. A mixed-methods design was employed over sequential phases, comprising an online survey (N = 484), a Q-sort (N = 30), and semi-structured interviews (N = 24). Descriptive statistical analyses of the survey data provided a preliminary understanding of youth engagement with IP; a specialised software programme assisted with factor analysis for the Q-methodological study investigating perspectives towards porn literacy education; and interview data were analysed by means of a critical thematic analysis, drawing on a feminist discursive approach to sexual scripting theory. Key research findings are presented across four research articles and indicate that; (i) (gendered) youth engagement with IP is commonplace, and there are varied understandings between stakeholder groups and across genders as to why and how these encounters occur, (ii) youth take up agentic positions that suggest they are active, legitimate sexual citizens, and adults generally harbour concerns about recognising youth in this way, and (iii) the construction of childhood innocence dubiously positions youth as uncritical, ‘at risk’ viewers of IP. Accordingly, protectionist adult intervention is justified and conceptualised in accordance with this construction of youth. My research highlights dominant and alternative constructions about youth sexuality, and describes the synergies and discrepancies across key stakeholder perspectives about youth engagement with IP. Importantly, my findings suggest some youth engage with IP in a more nuanced manner than typically assumed. Through gaining a comprehensive understanding of stakeholders' perspectives, the findings of my research expand scholarly knowledge by providing practical inquiry into the potential of porn literacy as pedagogy.
Article 1 is re-published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. Article 4 is re-published under the 2022 CAUL R&P Agreement with Springer Nature (Springer).
Internet pornography, Psychological aspects, Youth, Sexual behavior, Sex instruction for youth