Reconfiguring 'sexting': contrasting interventions in contentious debates
(University of Amsterdam)
Paper short abstract:
The paper considers attempts at intervention following a case of sexting in a Dutch school. It attends to how audiences were compelled by my knowledge practices in response. These contrasting interventions make clear how making knowledge can engage worldmaking normatively in various ways.
Paper long abstract:
During my fieldwork on diversity and sexuality in Dutch secondary schools, a (semi)nude picture of one of the female pupils was spread widely. Like pupils and teachers in the school, I felt compelled to intervene. How to put my STS on the production and scripting of sexting phenomenon to work?
This paper describes and contrasts different ways of intervening that I engaged with. Taking place in different sites, these interventions mostly aimed at rescribing what are taken to be the problems with sexting, highlighting how it is produced as a dangerous phenomenon. In doing so I offered possible ways out of the dominant way of scripting the phenomenon, trying to engage with it otherwise.
Some interventions were situated in the school, and involved diverting attention from psychological interrogation of the girl who was central in the event by asking about the process of spreading.
Worries about sexting were also expressed outside the school, in public debates. Here, I intervened through popular science writing, advisory work for a national curriculum on sexuality, and public speaking.
The analysis addresses how I was invited to take on different roles: expert, advisor, illustrator, intervention developer, and the different ideas about what counts as research result, intervention, or implementation of results that came along. The paper shows what kind of interventions ethnographic stories enable, the extent to which they were accepted, transformed, or rejected. Through contrasting these interventions, it becomes clear how our own knowledge practices can engage normatively in worldmaking in different ways.
Smugglers, idiots and loyal cheats: situated intervention as method out of control