Exploring the gap between media and practice: a feminist analysis of media representations and practitioner perspectives on sexual exploitation of girls and young women

Elliott, Katie (2021) Exploring the gap between media and practice: a feminist analysis of media representations and practitioner perspectives on sexual exploitation of girls and young women. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.

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Abstract / Description

This thesis explores media representations about ‘child sexual exploitation’ (CSE) and the ‘practice-based evidence’ of specialist practitioners from a feminist perspective. It considers how gender, power and other systems of social oppression relate to CSE. The study was conducted in two phases.

The first phase was a frame analysis of newspaper articles published during two significant periods of increased awareness, policy and practice development in England. The periods chosen were 1997-99 and 2014-15. Newspaper articles were drawn from three national newspapers: The Times, Daily Mail and the Mirror. A total of 390 articles were analysed. The comparative approach highlighted some distinct changes in the way CSE is represented. In period one young women are represented as both victims and agents. In period two young women are more explicitly framed as ‘vulnerable’ and abused. The media construction of CSE victims as ‘vulnerable’ and ‘white’ are interrogated. It argues that an emphasis on ‘whiteness’ and ‘vulnerability’ obscures the socioeconomic position of the young women concerned. The analysis also reveals a change in the media’s focus on perpetrators, from their relative invisibility in period one to a racialised media template in period two.

The second phase was qualitative interviews with 20 specialist practitioners. The analysis contributes to current debates about the language and terminology of ‘CSE’. It highlights the pragmatic and avoidant ‘uses’ of the term and suggests that while this acronym may generate resources and responses to young people, it sanitises young women’s experiences of rape. The way ‘CSE’ obscures the structural inequalities that underlie sexual exploitation and prostitution are explored. The final empirical chapter critiques the concepts of ‘grooming’ and ‘vulnerability’. It argues that these are individualising terms which obscure the gendered power dynamics and heteronormativity of the ‘grooming’ construct. The concept of ‘healthy relationships’ is also critiqued.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: sexual exploitation; grooming; gender; media; media representations
Subjects: 300 Social sciences > 360 Social problems & services; associations
Department: School of Social Sciences and Professions
Depositing User: Mary Burslem
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2021 12:59
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2021 12:59
URI: http://repository.londonmet.ac.uk/id/eprint/6937

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