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Agency or structure? Nigerian university students' perspectives of influences on sexual risk taking. / Amaechi Dickson Okonkwo

Swansea University Author: Amaechi Dickson, Okonkwo

Abstract

This thesis is about influences on young people's sexual risk taking. It is situated within a complex context of young people's sustained structural/self-sexualisation, significant sexual activity, unwanted outcomes such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), intended benefits such as...

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Published: 2009
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa42787
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Abstract: This thesis is about influences on young people's sexual risk taking. It is situated within a complex context of young people's sustained structural/self-sexualisation, significant sexual activity, unwanted outcomes such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs), intended benefits such as pleasure, and recurrent interventionists' promotion of abstinence-until-marriage sexual norm to young people. The above conceptualization is tested with a mixed-methodology that recruited fifty-six students with a snowball sampling technique. McCracken's long-interview and Stones' empirical research brackets for structuration theory facilitated narrative data collection, which were subjected to structural-hermeneutic analysis. Respondents identified four broad influences on their dominantly heterosexual behaviour. They include external influences (mass media), internal influences (positive pre-dispositions to premarital sex), agency (purposeful sexual action), and (un)intended outcome (STI and pleasure). Respondents emphasize that influences are non-hierarchical, differentially combine, and are dependent on individuals, contexts and seasons. They also infer the Nigerian context concurrently constrain and enable their sexual conducts via three normative sexual behaviour options. These are (1) the dominant Nigerian culture promoted abstinence-until-marriage. (2) Modernity sanctioned safer-sex with contraceptives. (3) Collective/individuated preference for unprotected premarital sex, periodic abstinence and contraceptive use. Respondents admit they practise the latter, which is a hybridization of option (1) and (2) and is illustrative of the co-influence of structure and agency on action. The conclusion is drawn that sexual risk taking is influenced by young people's concurrent structural/self sexualisation and their pursuit of contextual, personal and collectively meaningfial goals. Consequently, dominant linear conceptualizations of sexual risk taking, e.g. problem behaviour, will continue to be limited in effectiveness because they neglect these complex, recursive and interrelated influences. Thus, pragmatic efforts to manage risk-prone sexualities must concurrently engage their complex structural and agential sources, governed by safer-sex promotion, a recognition of multiple influences and individuated/collective value that both society and young people attach to sex.
Keywords: Clinical psychology.;Behavioral psychology.;Public health.
College: College of Arts and Humanities