Conceptual Overview (Portrayals of Sexuality in Pornography)

Döring, Nicola, and Miller, Daniel J. (2022) Conceptual Overview (Portrayals of Sexuality in Pornography). DOCA - Database of Variables for Content Analysis.

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Pornography is neither a documentary media genre that documents what real sex in everyday life looks like, nor is it a pedagogical or moral media genre aimed at showing what ideal sex (in terms of health or morality) should look like. Instead, pornography is a fictional media genre that depicts sexual fantasies and explicitly presents naked bodies and sexual activities for the purpose of sexual arousal (Williams, 1989; McKee et al., 2020). Regarding media ethics and media effects, pornography has traditionally been viewed as highly problematic. Pornographic material has been accused of portraying sexuality in unhealthy, morally questionable and often sexist ways, thereby harming performers, audiences, and society at large. In the age of the Internet, pornography has become more diverse, accessible, and widespread than ever (Döring, 2009; Miller et al., 2020). Consequently, the depiction of sexuality in pornography is the focus of a growing number of content analyses of both mass media (e.g., erotic and pornographic novels and movies) and social media (e.g., erotic and pornographic stories, photos and videos shared via online platforms). Typically, pornography’s portrayals of sexuality are examined by measuring the prevalence and frequency of sexual practices and related gender roles via quantitative content analysis (for research reviews see Carrotte et al., 2020; Miller & McBain, 2022). It should be noted that the conceptual differentiation between erotica and pornography is complex and that “pornography” remains an ideologically charged, and often negatively connotated, concept. Hence, the research literature sometimes uses the broader and more neutral term “sexually explicit material” (SEM) in place of “pornographic material” (McKee et al., 2020). Furthermore, it must be emphasized that in the context of content analyses of SEM the focus is typically on legal pornography. Legal visual pornography is produced with adults who have given their informed consent for their image to be recorded, and then disseminated and marketed as SEM. Illegal pornography is usually beyond the scope of media content research, as the acquisition and use of illegal material would be unethical and illegal for researchers (e.g., the analysis of so-called “child pornography”, or what might be more accurately labeled “images of child sexual abuse”). Criminological and forensic research projects are exceptions to this rule.

Item ID: 76755
Item Type: Article (Other)
ISSN: 2673-8597
Keywords: content analysis; pornography; media effects; sexuality
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Copyright Information: © 2022, the authors. This work is licensed under the “Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial – No Derivatives 4.0 International” license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
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See Related URLs in this record for links to the DOCA entries for the eight dimensions of pornographic portrayals of sexuality:

1) Violence Violence (Portrayals of Sexuality in Pornography)

2) Degradation Degradation (Portrayals of Sexuality in Pornography)

3) Sex Acts Sex Acts (Portrayals of Sexuality in Pornography)

4) Performer Demographics Performer Demographics (Portrayals of Sexuality in Pornography)

5) Performer Bodily Appearance Performer Bodily Appearance (Portrayals of Sexuality in


6) Safer Sex Practices Safer Sex Practices (Portrayals of Sexuality in Pornography)

7) Relational Context of Sex Relational Context of Sex (Portrayals of Sexuality in Pornography)

8) Consent Communication Consent Communication (Portrayals of Sexuality in Pornography)

Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2022 00:40
FoR Codes: 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5205 Social and personality psychology > 520505 Social psychology @ 60%
47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4701 Communication and media studies > 470107 Media studies @ 40%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280121 Expanding knowledge in psychology @ 60%
28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280116 Expanding knowledge in language, communication and culture @ 40%
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