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Sex is bad. Unprotected sex is a problem. Having a baby would be a disaster. Abortion is a sin. Teenagers in the United States hear conflicting messages about sex from everyone around them. How do teens understand these messages?In Mixed Messages, Stefanie Mollborn examines how social norms and social control work through in-depth interviews with college students and teen mothers and fathers, revealing the tough conversations teeangers just can't have with adults. Delving into teenagers' complicated social worlds Mollborn argues that by creating informal social sanctions like gossip and exclusion and formal communication such as sex education, families, peers, schools, and communities strategize to gain control over teens' behaviors. However, while teens strategize to keep control, they resist the constraints of the norms, revealing the variety of outcomes that occur beyond compliance or deviance.

About the Author

Stefanie Mollborn

Stefanie Mollborn is an Associate Professor in Sociology and the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado Boulder (http://www.colorado.edu/ibs/hs/mollborn/) . The mother of a teenager, she is interested in the social norms communicated to teens, how they are enforced and resisted, and what their consequences are for teens. Her policy-relevant sociological research concentrates on the mechanisms and theoretical explanations that underlie demographic trends. Both statistical analyses of longitudinal national surveys and multimethod ethnographic data collection are important for achieving this goal. Current and recent funders include the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. In her recent research, she has studied the lives of teen parents and young children. Her current research project focuses on young people's health lifestyles, or their interrelated health behaviors and health-focused identities. How do young children's health lifestyles form, and how do they change as children get older and start to make their own behavioral choices? Ethnographic research in two communities is combined with national longitudinal databases to answer these questions.

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