Expertly Framed: How Science and Evidence Came to Dominate the Sex Ed Debate
AuthorMota-Back, Xóchitl Reneé
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation is a historical analysis of the dominant framing practices utilized by both liberal and conservative advocacy organizations and individuals in the domain of sex education throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. It is in two parts. In the first part, I construct a strategic narrative to answer the question why did conservative organizations, despite their documented anti-science sentiments, begin to embrace expertise-based frames? Utilizing a mixed-method approach, I analyze primary and secondary documents to trace the diffusion of expertise-based framing practices by liberal and conservative actors in the field of sex education. I find that the domain of sex education has always utilized expertise-based frames, though it has experienced disruptions spurred by major socio-political shifts (e.g., McCarthyism, the AIDS epidemic). In the second part, I present the results of an experimental vignette study. While the strategic narrative focuses on organizational and institutional shifts in framing practices, the experiment seeks insight into whether and how "expert cues" are noticed by a non-scientific professional audience, specifically parents (N=202) of school-aged children (5–17). The results provide weak support for the claim that parents will more favorably evaluate a sex education lesson plan when it includes expert cues, irrespective of their religious and political identities. I conclude by discussing theoretical implications for the study of framing, sociology of science, and public understanding of science as well as future directions for this research.
Degree ProgramGraduate College