Responsibility, risk and negotiation in the discourse of gay men's group sex Academic Article uri icon


  • Responsibility for the practise of (un)safe sex, for taking or not taking risks in relation to HIV transmission and for the negotiation of (safe) sex have been concerns in HIV-prevention research for a long time. This paper presents the findings of a discourse analysis of interview texts collected as part of the Three or More Study. We examine what, in the discourse examined, constrains and enables 'response-ability' - the capacity to respond to others and one's self in light of the complex contingencies that operate to enliven sexual contexts. We identify three key aspects of these sexual contexts that impact on response-ability: that there is an absence of 'explicit' (verbally communicated) negotiation and the presence of action-perception links, which are understood as forms of negotiation; that some sexual contexts appear to involve the passivity of participants to the sexual event, interaction or to other men, but that there is agency in and as part of this passivity; and that there exists a social obligation to being individually responsible for sexual decision making, including the taking of risks.

publication date

  • January 2011