Positioning a 'mature' self in interactive practices: How adolescent males negotiate 'physical attraction' in group talk
This article presents a discursive psychological approach in examining the ways that adolescent boys (ages 12-15 years) accomplish a sense of 'maturity' by bringing off and managing certain features of 'heterosexuality' in group interaction. We focus on and analyse moments when the boys negotiate implicit challenges, make evaluations and offer assessments concerning their physical and sexual attraction to girls' looks. These moments are highly important for negotiating their peer status, for working toward a distinction between 'childhood' and 'adolescence', and for marking a normatively heterosexual self within the burgeoning institution of adolescence. We will specifically show how 'heterosexual desire' is carefully managed in group discussions where the boys participate in normative heterosexuality, but in ways that are nevertheless designed to appear mature and knowing, rather than shallow, naïve or sexist. Three discursive methods of negotiation are identified and described in detail: (1) underscoring the non-literality of actions by appealing to motives, (2) denials with built-in concessions, and (3) differentiation through caricature. Couched within the proposed discursive framework, we are reversing the traditional logic of developmental approaches to 'maturation'. Rather than viewing maturation as the effect of resolving developmental tasks, we argue that 'maturity' comes to existence in the way talk is accomplished; that is, as highly flexible and fragile projections of identity that involve a continuous refinement of 'finely tuned positioning skills'.
British Journal of Developmental Psychology
discursive psychology, teenage boys, emotion regulation, heterosexuality, sexual attraction, social interaction
Korobov, Neill and Bamberg, Michael, "Positioning a 'mature' self in interactive practices: How adolescent males negotiate 'physical attraction' in group talk" (2004). Psychology. 157.