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Promising the Future: Virginity Pledges and First Intercourse

Peter Shawn Bearman; Hannah Brückner

Title:
Promising the Future: Virginity Pledges and First Intercourse
Author(s):
Bearman, Peter Shawn
Brückner, Hannah
Date:
Type:
Articles
Department(s):
Sociology
Volume:
106
Persistent URL:
Book/Journal Title:
American Journal of Sociology
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Abstract:
Since 1993, in response to a movement sponsored by the Southern Baptist Church, over 2.5 million adolescents have taken public “virginity” pledges, in which they promise to abstain from sex until marriage. This paper explores the effect of those pledges on the transition to first intercourse. Adolescents who pledge are much less likely to have intercourse than adolescents who do not pledge. The delay effect is substantial. On the other hand, the pledge does not work for adolescents at all ages. Second, pledging delays intercourse only in contexts where there are some, but not too many, pledgers. The pledge works because it is embedded in an identity movement. Consequently, the pledge identity is meaningful only in contexts where it is at least partially nonnormative. Consequences of pledging are explored for those who break their promise. Promise breakers are less likely than others to use contraception at first intercourse.
Subject(s):
Sociology
Publisher DOI:
https://doi.org/10.1086/320295
Item views
408
Metadata:
text | xml
Suggested Citation:
Peter Shawn Bearman, Hannah Brückner, , Promising the Future: Virginity Pledges and First Intercourse, Columbia University Academic Commons, .

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