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Bourgeois Abstinence: Sexuality, Individualism, and Performances of Class among Pentecostal Middle Class Youth in South Africa

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores how religion and social class operate to produce notions and understanding of sexuality and the HIV/AIDS epidemic in urban middle class youth. It examines collective negotiations of the meanings of sexuality as they unfolded in a Pentecostal youth group meeting in Cape Town. The chapter begins by describing the main features of the fight against HIV/AIDS which forms the immediate social context for the study of sexuality in South Africa. It also explores how researchers have conceptualized the role of religion. The author suggests that because of the continued rise of Pentecostalism, ongoing concerns with HIV/AIDS, and escalating social inequalities are probably more pronounced and widespread today than a few years ago. Middle class youth value abstinence because they see their lives as valuable and successful, which is precisely what their class status allows them to see.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS; Pentecostalism; sexuality; South Africa



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