Sexual inter-subjectivity and the quest for social well-being : an ethnographic inquiry of adolescent sexuality in urban Southern Tanzania

Sambaiga, Richard Faustine. Sexual inter-subjectivity and the quest for social well-being : an ethnographic inquiry of adolescent sexuality in urban Southern Tanzania. 2013, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.


Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/diss/DissB_11090

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This study explores what sexuality means for individual adolescents, by examining how an
why adolescents go about engaging with multiple social and cultural prescriptions or ideals
relation to their sexual lives. Grounded in the refined conceptualization of agency, the study
approaches adolescents as “agents” in themselves and their sexual or reproductive practices “social
actions”. Based on ethnographic methods, the study focuses on sexual and reproductive experiences
of adolescents in Mtwara Town, Southern Tanzania. Central to th analysis is the understanding of
sexual and reproductive actions from the adolescents’ viewpoints. Findings show that sexual
practices during adolescence in Mtwara Town constitute contested social phenomena as they are
simultaneously disapproved and endorsed by different social actors and institutions. In their quest
for social well-being, adolescents inter-subjectively engage with multiple, competing and often
contradictory sexual norms an expectations along with their own aspirations. Fundamentally,
sanctions and rewards attach to adolescents’ sexual practices articulate different forms of social
reputation. Accordingly, sexual respectability is among the key concerns in adolescents’ sexual
practices. Situational shifting between and/or simultaneously combining two or more sexual
formations are common in most of the adolescents’ lived experiences. Moreover, adolescent sexual
activiti are enacted for different purposes rather than simply performed as mere behaviours compell
by some physical or mental urge, or habits. The expectations that adolescents project into sexual
partnership(s) constitute horizons or resolutions of hopes and fears (or “risk” dimensions) which
are often in contrast with the dominant sexual and reproductive health ri discourses. Equally
important, social spaces for adolescents’ sexual practices are enmeshed, or interwoven, in socially
and culturally pre-established practices. In spite of the dominant tendencies in policy and
scholarly discourses to represent adolescents’ sexual practices in universal, essentialist and
normative terms, sexuality means different things for different young people coming of age in the
rapidly changing urban settings of Southern Tanzania. A nuanced understanding of adolescent sexual
practices from the actors’ standpoints is a pre- requisite for adequate intervention programmes.
Advisors:Obrist, Brigit and Förster, Till
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Gesellschaftswissenschaften > Ehemalige Einheiten Gesellschaftswissenschaften > Medizinethnologie (Obrist)
UniBasel Contributors:Förster, Till
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:11090
Thesis status:Complete
Number of Pages:1 Online-Ressource (xi, 331 Blätter)
Identification Number:
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:22 Apr 2018 04:32
Deposited On:25 Jul 2017 13:08

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