The dissertation research project focuses on sexual consent to heterosexual casual sex among seasonal workers in Banff and Jasper Alberta. The study is a qualitative study using a modified grounded theory approach and textual analysis. Sexual consent plays a pivotal role in discussions and debates about sexual violence. Most often the absence of sexual consent is the defining characteristic of sexual violence (sex without consent). However, sexual consent has received relatively little attention from social science researchers and theorists. Few researchers have attempted to understand what consent consists of or how consent is communicated. To date, research on sexual consent has focused on the types of behaviours used by university students to indicate consent. Results suggest that consent is most often communicated non-verbally, although little is understood about the type of non-verbal communication, when and how it occurs, or how relationship and situational context influence these non-verbal cues. It is likely that expectations and expressions of consent may be different in established relationships compared with casual sex. Established partners are likely to have established ways of communicating and may be better able to read one another. In contrast, consent to casual sex may be more contentious and unclear than consent to a regular partner. Partners may be less likely to express themselves openly and less able to read one another’s cues. In addition, casual sex often takes place with the use of alcohol, which may affect people’s abilities to read and respond to cues from another person and to make well thought-out decisions. The contentious nature and “cloudiness” of consent to casual sex relationships make these relationships an ideal place to study sexual consent.
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