Dangerous knowledge vs. dangerous ignorance: Risk narratives on sex education in the Russian press
The paper is devoted to analysis of the debates on sex education in the Russian press. ‘Risk narrative structure’ of media articles on sex education was determined. This structure represents a system of mutually constituting elements, which include object of risk, risks themselves, solutions to their prevention, solutions opponents, and type of society these solutions presuppose. It is argued that analysis of risks with the aid of ‘risk narrative structures’ can be a useful development of sociocultural theory of risk, as competing risk narratives can befully grasped only when considered not as discrete claims about different ‘risks’ but as coherent systems of interrelated meanings. On the basis of this structure, competent risk media narratives of proponents and opponents of sex education were reconstructed. In these narratives different definitions of ‘children’ as objects of risk were constructed, and so were types of risks, and types of society. It would be oversimplifying to consider debates on sex education as a battle of ‘enlightened rationality’ against ‘dark irrationality.’ In each risk narrative the solution (introduction or ban of sex education) is a logically following element in the respective risk narrative. While sex education advocates were concerned about negative consequences of children’s sexual behaviour and defence of the ‘civilised society’s moral boundaries, the opposite side was concerned about retaining children’s moral purity and defence of ‘traditional’ moral boundaries.