Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Policy Studies

First Advisor

Deron Boyles - Chair

Second Advisor

Jodi Kaufmann

Third Advisor

Philo A. Hutcheson

Fourth Advisor

Eric Freeman


To investigate how federal discourse constructs adolescence, the author analyzed discussions of abstinence-only sexuality education from the U.S. Congressional Record from 2001 to 2007. He used grounded theory methodology to identify theoretical codes and construct a model from the data. The grounded theory developed focused on Congress’s maintenance of its role in mediating concern over the sexual behavior of adolescents as opposed to finding a solution to the problem it had identified. The author relates this theory to Foucault’s (1974/1991) concept of governmentality. He discusses Congress’s discourse about adolescence using Lesko’s (2001) confident characteristics of adolescence as a framework.