Professionals' Perceptions of Young Males in Child Sexual Exploitation Policy: A Critical Policy Genealogical Analysis

Michael Fanner

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

63 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The discourse on young males affected by or involved in child sexual exploitation (CSE) is often silenced due to the preoccupation with, and generally greater publicity of, female victims within professional practice, policy and research. Historical and contemporary CSE discourse is largely conceptualised through Feminism and Moral Panic Theory, enmeshed within a general reduction of available professional vocabulary in English child protection policy. This thesis aims to investigate these discourses.

Methodology: This research analyses CSE policy implementation between 2000 and 2016 with alternative social theories within a critical policy genealogy (CPG). The CPG considers Foucault’s position of the ‘qualified speakers’ on childhood sexuality to identify the ethics of CSE policy enactment. Two specific methodologies are utilised to establish the discourse and counter-discourse on multiple levels: a critical realist synthesis of CSE policy literature (n=44) and a Foucauldian-inspired discourse analysis of policy actors (n=18) in a geographically-defined case study.

Results: By bringing together the critical realist and Foucauldian-inspired datasets, the CPG presents six discourse norm circles (Elder-Vass 2011, 2012) involved in CSE policy enactment: political influences; visibility / surveillance; the construction of the ‘perfect victim’; inclusivity for young males; local governance; and championing the specialist / minority voice. CSE policy is understood, experienced and perceived inconsistently by policy enactors across a range of fields, however those within the voluntary sector are key to developing better understandings of the realities of young males.

Conclusions: Policy enactors are stuck in a constant negotiating position, or dance, between co-existing realities of CSE presented by government policy and its implementation. They have to try to make sense of these dances of power (dynamism) by attempting to implement, whilst simultaneously adapting policy expectations to accommodate CSE victims. It is only through this dynamism, however, a new knowledge on young males can be revealed.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Greenwich
  • Evans, David, Supervisor, External person
  • Maras, Pam, Supervisor, External person
Award date12 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2019


  • Child Sexual Exploitation
  • Young Males
  • Discourse analysis
  • Child Sexual Abuse
  • Policy analysis


Dive into the research topics of 'Professionals' Perceptions of Young Males in Child Sexual Exploitation Policy: A Critical Policy Genealogical Analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this