Skip header navigation

University of Stirling

×

Article

Presuming the influence of the media: Teenagers' constructions of gender identity through sexual/romantic relationships and alcohol consumption

Citation
Hartley JE, Wight D & Hunt K (2014) Presuming the influence of the media: Teenagers' constructions of gender identity through sexual/romantic relationships and alcohol consumption. Sociology of Health and Illness, 36 (5), pp. 772-786. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.12107

Abstract
Using empirical data from group discussions and in-depth interviews with 13 to 15-year olds in Scotland, this study explores how teenagers' alcohol drinking and sexual/romantic relationships were shaped by their quest for appropriate gendered identities. In this, they acknowledged the influence of the media, but primarily in relation to others, not to themselves, thereby supporting Milkie's 'presumed media influence' theory. Media portrayals of romantic/sexual relationships appeared to influence teenagers' constructions of gender-appropriate sexual behaviour more than did media portrayals of drinking behaviour, perhaps because the teenagers had more firsthand experience of observing drinking than of observing sexual relationships. Presumed media influence may be less influential if one has experience of the behaviour portrayed. Drinking and sexual behaviour were highly interrelated: sexual negotiation and activities were reportedly often accompanied by drinking. For teenagers, being drunk or, importantly, pretending to be drunk, may be a useful way to try out what they perceived to be gender-appropriate identities. In sum, teenagers' drinking and sexual/romantic relationships are primary ways in which they do gender and the media's influence on their perceptions of appropriate gendered behaviour is mediated through peer relationships. © 2014 The Authors. Sociology of Health & Illness published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Foundation for SHIL (SHIL).

Keywords
Teenagers; media influence; drinking alcohol; gender identity; sexual relationship;

Journal
Sociology of Health and Illness: Volume 36, Issue 5

StatusPublished
Author(s)Hartley, Jane E; Wight, Daniel; Hunt, Kate
Publication date30/06/2014
Publication date online21/01/2014
PublisherWiley
ISSN0141-9889
Scroll back to the top