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Sex, science and educational research: the unholy trinity

Stronach, Ian and Frankham, Jo and Stark, Sheila (2007) Sex, science and educational research: the unholy trinity. UNSPECIFIED. Routledge.


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This article examines the state's contemporary construction of 'sex' as an educational problem in England. It does so by interrogating the notion of the 'pregnant teenager' as it is semantically and statistically constructed in accountability discourses, as well as research constrained within them. It then examines certain features of an exemplary solution to the problem, as proferred by one of the largest contemporary research projects into sex education in the UK (the RIPPLE project). A critique is offered of the 'scientific' nature of some of these findings. We claim conclusions to be undermined by statistical and rhetorical gerrymandering, a prejudicial rendering of pupil 'voice', and an underlying reductionism. The article concludes that many of the features of such current problem-constructing and solution-rendering can be characterised as a false invocation of 'Science', and that their conjunction fuels an enduring infantilisation of educational discourses about sex and sex education.

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