Worrell 2001 Construction

Title Information

Author: Marcia Lorraine Worrell

Title: The Discursive Construction of Child Sexual Abuse

Subtitle: -

Thesis: Ph.D. Thesis, Open University

Year: September 1999

Pages: 405pp.

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | English History, U.S. History | Types: Child Sexual Abuse

Full Text

Link: Open Research Online (Free Access)

Additional Information


»Currently in the English speaking world adulVchild sex and knowledge about it has become firmly located within a taken-for-granted ‘child sexual abuse’ discourse. My argument in this thesis is that despite being commonly portrayed as a singularity, the discursive arena of adultlchild sex is a site of controversy and conflict, invested with meanings that differ over time and place. Child sexual abuse cannot thus be thought of as something that exists outside of the situated knowledge through which its taken-for-granted nature is brought into being and maintained. A stated aim of this thesis is, therefore, to explore some of the complex, heterogeneous and nuanced ways in which adulffchild sex is put into discourse as child sexual abuse.
The analytics of Beryl Curt and Michel Foucault were applied to Q Methodology, participant observation and a range of ethnographically informed methodologies. The Q Methodological study revealed five explanatory accounts. These were explicated as a Mainstream Professional Account; Boy-Love; A Liberal Account of Child Sexual Abuse; Sexual Abuse as Paraphilia and a Feminist lnformed Account. The Q study also revealed three standpoints on child sexual abuse: Feminist Child Protectionist; Social Constructionist/Children’s Rights; and Childhood Sexuality. Three alternative viewpoints on the social policies that should be adopted in this area were also identified in this study. These were explicated as Libertarian; Control and Protect and Liberal Humanism. Also examined were the performative aspects of the phenomenon of child sexual abuse through an interrogation of the subject position that are available (to survivors of sexual abuse, convicted child sex offenders and those who advocate adultkhild sexual contact), to be adopted, resisted or reformed. The thesis ends with a review of the main findings of my research in terms of theory. practice and research in the area of child sexual abuse. It also examines methodological issues and reflects upon my own experiences of conducting this work.« (Source: Thesis)


Chapter 1: Introduction
  Section 1: The Aims and Tasks of the Thesis (p. 2)
  Setting the scene – the emergence of 'child sexual abuse' as a serious social problem (p. 2)
    The construction of a singularised 'truth' – narratives of danger and damage (p. 3)
    Challenging the mainstream construction (p. 5)
    Examining the textual ecology of adult/child sex (p. 7)
    Examining the tectonics of discourses on adult/child sex (p. 9)
    Examining the subject-positions that are constituted in and mobilised trough discourses on adult/child sex (p. 10)
  Section 2: Theoretical Underpinnings (p. 12)
  The agenda of the human and the social sciences and the creation and government of the subject (p. 12)
    The Enlightenment Project (p. 12)
    Modernity and the construction of the subject (p. 13)
    Regulation and the construction of deviance (p. 15)
    Implications for the thesis (p. 17)
    The climate of perturbation and its analytics (p. 17)
    A climate of perturvation (p. 18)
    Critical polytextualism (p. 20)
    Foucaultian analytics (p. 20)
    Curtian analytics (p. 25)
  Chapter Review and Prospect (p. 26)
  Overview of the thesis (p. 28)
Chapter 2: Critical Methods for Discursive Inquiry
  Introduction (p. 29)
  The requirements of critical polytextualist methods (p. 30)
  Grounded theory (p. 32)
    Introduction (p. 32)
    Problems with grounded theory research (p. 33)
    How grounded theory principles were applied in the early stages of my research (p. 34)
    Informal Conversations (p. 35)
    Participating in short courses and conferences (p. 36)
    Scrutiny of media (p. 37)
  Ethnographic research (p. 38)
    Criticisms of traditional ethnography (p. 39)
    Working within a 'critical ethnographic' framework (p. 40)
    How critical ethnographic methods were used in this thesis (p. 42)
    Observations (p. 43)
    Individual Interviews (p. 44)
    Group discussions (p. 45)
    The sorting task (p. 46)
  Q Methodological research (p. 47)
    Introduction (p. 47)
    Stages in carrying out a Q study (p. 47)
    Criticisms and Problems with Q methodology (p. 53)
  Discourse analysis (p. 54)
    Introduction (p. 54)
    Micro-Discourse Analysis (p. 55)
    Problems with Conversations and Micro Discourse Analysis (p. 56)
    Macro-Discourse analysis (p. 58)
    How macro-discourse analysis was used in this thesis (p. 58)
Chapter 3: Discoursing Child Sexual Abuse
  Introduction (p. 60)
  Genealogy and tectonics (p. 62)
    Genealogy (p. 62)
    Tectonics (p. 63)
    The geneaology and tectonics of adult/child sex (p. 64)
  The incest taboo (p. 65)
    Biologically-informed accounts of the incest taboo (p.. 67)
    Social/anthropologically-informed accounts of the incest taboo (p. 68)
    Psychoanalytically-informed accounts of incest taboo (p. 69)
    Some feminist critiques of discourses on the incest taboo (p. 72)
    Discourses on incest (p. 73)
  The endangered child (p. 74)
    Freud's seduction theory (p. 77)
  Asserting children's sexuality (p. 79)
    The regulation of childhood sexuality (p. 83)
  Discourses on child sexual abuse (p. 84)
    The 'discovery' of child abuse (p. 84)
    Child sexual abuse (p. 85)
    Stranger Danger (p. 85)
    Defining Child Sexual Abuse (p. 87)
    Public perceptions of child sexual abuse (p. 90)
  The tectonic debating of child sexual abuse (p. 90)
    Feminist Discourses (p. 90)
    New right discourses (p. 92)
    Familiy systems theory (p. 94)
    Claims making (p. 98)
  Chapter review and prospect (p. 98)
Introduction to Section 2
  Introduction (p. 101)
  Designing the q-sets (p. 102)
    Sampling the concourse of child sexual abuse (p. 102)
    The development of items used in the three q-sorts (p. 106)
    Pilot testing (p. 111)
  Method (p. 113)
    The participant sample (p. 114)
    Proceduare (p. 116)
    Analysis (p. 117)
  Explicating the factors (p. 120)
Chapter 4: Explanations for Child Sexual Abuse
  Introduction (p. 122)
  A Mainstream Professional Account of Child Sexual Abuse (p. 124)
    Factor Summary (p. 124)
    Factor Explication (p. 125)
    Factor Review (p. 132)
  'Boy – Love' (p. 133)
    Factor Summary (p. 133)
    Factor Explication (p. 135)
    Factor Review (p. 141)
  A Liberal Account of Child Sexual Abuse (p. 142)
    Factor Summary (p. 142)
    Factor Explication (p. 143)
    Factor Review (p. 148)
  Child Sexual Abuse as Paraphilia (p. 149)
    Factor Summary (p. 149)
    Factor Explication (p. 150)
    Factor Review (p. 156)
  A Feminist-Informed Account (p. 158)
    Factor Summary (p. 158)
    Factor Explication (p. 159)
    Factor Review (p. 168)
  Discussion (p. 169)
    Normalisation and Pathologisation (p. 169)
    Women and child sexual abuse (p. 175)
    Views about the child (p. 181)
Chapter 5: Standpoints on and Definitions of Child Sexual Abuse
  Introduction (p. 187)
  'A Feminist Informed Child Protectionist Account' (p. 188)
    Factor Summary (p. 190)
    Factor Explication (p. 191)
    Factor Review (p. 202)
  A Social Constructionist/Children's Rights Perspective on Child Sexual Abuse (p. 203)
    Factor Summary (p. 204)
    Factor Explication (p. 205)
    Factor Review (p. 217)
  Childhood Sexuality (p. 218)
    Factor Summary (p. 218)
    Factor Explication (p. 219)
    Factor Review (p. 225)
  Discussion (p. 226)
  Reflections (p. 230)
Chapter 6: Social Policies on and Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
  Introduction (p. 233)
  A libertarian policy on child sexual abuse (p. 231)
    Factor Summary (p. 234)
    Explication of the Factor (p. 235)
    Factor Review (p. 242)
  A 'Control and Protect' Response to Child Sexual Abuse (p. 239)
    Factor Summary (p. 243)
    Explication of the Factor (p. 240)
    Factor Review (p. 255)
  A liberal humanist policy on child sexual abuse (p. 256)
    Factor Summary (p. 257)
    Explication of the Factor (p. 259)
    Factor Review (p. 269)
  Discussion (p. 269)
  Conclusions to the q methodological study (p. 271)
Chapter 7: Subject Positions and Child Sexual Abuse
  Introduction (p. 276)
  Section 1: Contextualising Subject Positions (p. 278)
  Subject Positions and the specification of individuals (p. 278)
    Objectiviation and subjectivication: technologies of power and of the self (p. 280)
    Truth games and subject positions (p. 282)
    Confession and therapeutics (p. 283)
    Taking a position and being positioned (p. 284)
  Section 2: The subject positions available to locate adults who have had sexual contacts with children (p. 286)
  Introduction (p. 286)
  The subject position of 'reformed character' (p. 286)
    Background to my observations at HMP Grendon (p. 286)
    The Psycho-Educational Programme (p. 287)
  The narratives that constitute the 'reformed character' subject position (p. 288)
    The acquisition of the 'reformed character' subject position (p. 297)
  The subject position of 'true' paedophilia (p. 301)
    Making contact with Andrew (p. 301)
    The narratives that constitute the 'child lover' subject position (p. 302)
    Positioning the paedophile as 'child lover' (p. 305)
  Section 3: The subject positions available to locate people who as children have had sexual contact with an adult (p. 310)
  Introduction (p. 310)
    Background to my observations of the self-help group (p. 311)
    The subject position of victim (p. 312)
    The subject position of 'survivor' (p. 315)
    From 'victim' to 'survivor' (p. 318)
    The acquisition of the 'survivor' discourse (p. 313)
  Section 4: Conclusions (p. 324)
Chapter 8: Towards Some Conclusions
  Introduction (p. 327)
  Overview of theory and main findings (p. 328)
    The mainstream child abuse discourse (p. 330)
    The paedophile justification (p. 331)
  Challenges to the mainstream that are not justifications for Paedophilia (p. 332)
    The need to challenge the mainstream (p. 334)
    Children as abusers and childhood sexuality (p. 335)
  Implications for policy, practice and safeguarding children (p. 342)
    Applying critical polytextualism to policy and practice (p. 346)
  Methodology (p. 351)
    Methodological plurality (p. 355)
    Giving a voice? (p. 357)
    Re-writing narratives? (p. 361)
    Reading texts? (p. 363)
    Iinvestments in the research proces (p. 364)
    Personal implications (p. 355)
  Taking responsibility and the risks of deconstructing child sexual abuse (p. 368)
  Conclusion (p. 369)
  Bibliography (p. 372)
  Appendices (p. 406)

Wikipedia: Child sexual abuse

Added: February 21, 2015 – Last updated: February 21, 2015