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From left to right: Tina Fetner, Melanie Heath, Michelle Dion

Social Sciences research team to study sexual behaviour in Canada

A McMaster University Social Sciences research team has been awarded a five-year SSHRC Insight Grant in the amount of $272,536 to conduct the first extensive study of social policy, attitudes and sexual behaviour in Canada.

Oct 12, 2017

McMaster Social Sciences Research Team: Tina Fetner, Associate Professor of Sociology and Principal investigator, and Co-applicants, Melanie Heath, Associate Professor of Sociology and Michelle Dion, Associate Professor of Political Science have been awarded a five-year SSHRC Insight Grant in the amount of $272,536 to conduct a multi-method research project that will develop a theory of sexual policy regimes through comparative analysis of policies in liberal welfare states.

Working with collaborators at Indiana University-- Drs. Debra Herbenick and Michael Reece, and Alex McKay, Executive Director of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN), the team will administer a Canadian survey of sexual behaviour and social attitudes that will produce comparative data for the United States, enabling Canada/U.S. comparisons.

Lastly, the team will conduct follow-up, in-depth interviews with a sample of Canadian survey takers to collect interpretations and explanations on sexual behaviour, attitudes, and social policy.

The findings will offer robust, empirically based knowledge that address questions in the social organization of sexuality, such as:

  • Does legal recognition of diverse family forms shape sexual behaviour or social attitudes?
  • Do social and political attitudes influence divorce, age of first intercourse, or contraceptive use?
  • How do individuals attribute meaning to their sexual choices? Are their meanings consistent with their social and political attitudes?

The team’s objective is to understand the sexual dimensions of liberal welfare states and to develop a theory of sexual policy regimes.