Contested Consent: Social and Digital Borders and Orders of Intimacy in Young People’s Romantic Engagements (CoCo)
Over the past few years, giving and receiving consent in sexual encounters has become a highly contested topic in both public and political debates. This discussion is often saturated around young people, although it excludes their voices. It bypasses crucial expertise deriving from young people’s everyday lives and lacks sensitivity toward intersecting social differences of ethnicity, race, gender, class, and sexual identity.
The project ”Contested Consent: Social and Digital Borders and Orders of Intimacy in Young People’s Romantic Engagements” (CoCo) addresses this knowledge gap by bringing the question of sexual consent and the limits of acceptable behaviour in intimate encounters to the focus of academic examination. The project calls attention to young people’s (15 to 19-year olds) everyday lives, including their social and digital contexts. The project provides a holistic and intersectionally sensitive analysis of the role of romantic or intimate encounters in young people’s lives and the ways these encounters support or compromise their wellbeing. We use this knowledge to nuance the prevailing ideas and assumptions regarding young people’s sexual consenting which often revolves around worry and moral panic, but in the legal context, in particular, also involves ideas of universalistic free will and autonomy.
Empirically, the analysis is based on triangulation of qualitative and quantitative data sets concerning young people’s everyday realities (survey and interview data) and societal discourses around sexual consent as a youth question (e.g., sex education, policy making, law drafting).
The study consists of three work packages:
1. Young people’s lived realities
-Focus group and individual interviews with young people in schools
-Focus group and individual interviews with lgbtiq+ youth
2.Victimisation in intimate relations
-Focus group interviews with the police
-STIR (Safegrounding Teenage Intimate Relationships) in Finland: Survey on victimisation experiences
-Interviews with victims of intimate partner violence and abuse
3. Case study of a ”rape law” drafting process
-Media data, policy documents, expert interviews