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Agency in action – young women and their sexual relationships in a private school

Maxwell, C; Aggleton, P; (2010) Agency in action – young women and their sexual relationships in a private school. Gender and Education , 22 (3) pp. 327-343. 10.1080/09540250903341120. Green open access

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Abstract

Agency among young women is often understood as fleeting in nature, and studies rarely offer insights into how agency could become a more sustained position. Using data from 54 young women discussing their sexual and intimate relationships, this paper suggests a new way of understanding agency beyond that found in work which stresses agentic practice as resistance or the challenging of dominant expectations and understandings. Instead, through the notion of ‘agency in action’ we begin with young women’s conceptualisations of power. In this study, power was viewed as a resource that is shared between partners, but also a capacity of the self. These conceptualisations offer two new ways of understanding agency in intimate relations – either through ‘reacting into action’ and taking power back; or by ‘starting from’ a powerful position. Central to an understanding of young women’s agency is the role of emotions and recognition of these as motivators for change.

Type: Article
Title: Agency in action – young women and their sexual relationships in a private school
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/09540250903341120
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09540250903341120
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Gender and Education in May 2010, available online: http://wwww.tandfonline.com/10.1080/09540250903341120.
Keywords: sexuality, gender, femininities, agency, emotion
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1471656
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