Sexual Harassment in the Transition to Adulthood: Content and Context

Christopher Uggen, University of Minnesota
Amy Blackstone, University of Minnesota

ABSTRACT
This study of sexual harassment and discrimination over the life cycle takes up three fundamental questions. First, how do the victimization experiences of adolescents differ from those of young adults? Second, who is likely to become a victim of sexual harassment or discrimination at these life stages? Third, why do some victims come forward to notify others while other victims remain silent? We begin with a conceptual model of sexual harassment and legal consciousness based on the power people hold in work, family, and community life. We analyze data from both surveys and intensive interviews. Survey data come from the Youth Development Study, a longitudinal investigation of 1000 respondents who began the study as 9th graders in Minnesota public schools in 1988. Analysis of the survey data suggests that women and men both experience certain harassing behaviors but that men are unlikely to identify these behaviors as sexual harassment. Intensive interview data reveal the context of these experiences, the meaning that participants ascribe to their experiences and actions, and how harassing events take place and elicit mobilization. Survey and interview data are analyzed together to provide a more comprehensive view of sexual harassment victimization and mobilization.

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Updated 05/20/2006