Health discourse, sexual slang and ideological contradictions among Mozambican youth: Implications for method

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Christian Groes-Green


Despite the urgency of improving an understanding of sexual cultures in the face of a

globally devastating HIV epidemic, methodological reflection and innovation has been

conspicuously absent from qualitative research in recent years. Findings from

fieldwork on condom use among young people in Mozambique confirm the need to

remain alert to the ideological and linguistic bias of applied methods. Interviewing

young people about their sexuality using a conventional health discourse resulted in

incorrect or socially acceptable answers rather than accurate information about their

sexual behaviour. Young people's resistance to enquiry, the paper argues, is due to

ideological contradictions between their sexual culture and slang, on the one hand, and

Western health discourses associated with colonial and post-colonial opposition to

traditional culture and languages, on the other. Mixing colloquial Portuguese and

changana sexual slang is constructed around ideas of safedeza and pleasure, while

dominant health discourses address sexuality as both ‘risky' and ‘dangerous'. In order

to gain a deeper understanding of sexual cultures and to make HIV prevention efforts

relevant to young people, it is suggested that researchers and policy makers approach

respondents with a language that is sensitive to the local ideological and linguistic


Original languageEnglish
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)655-668
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2009

ID: 16917330