Female agency in action

an examination of interactions in an online ‘Love and Relationships’ discussion forum


  • Catherine Cresswell University of the Witwatersrand




mHealth, Conversation Analysis, female agency, adolescent relationships, South Africa


This study examined the discursive and interactional processes by which adolescent female participants present and discuss their romantic relationships in a ‘Love and Relationships’ MXit forum, a mobile phone-based project created by the South African Non-Governmental Organisation, HIVSA. In doing so, it was possible to explore some of the norms and ‘taken-for-granted’ practices of romantic relationships that the participants describe, which offered insight into present research into adolescent experiences of gender and romantic relationships, as well as new subjects for consideration during intervention or analysis. In particular, it is suggested that because conceptions of love and having children appeared not to be foreclosed normative practices, these could prove fertile points of intervention with young women’s choices, agency, and ultimately, empowerment. This study thus recommends disseminating and increasing the scope of hi4LIFE and similar projects that provide platforms for the production of female agency.

Author Biography

Catherine Cresswell, University of the Witwatersrand

Catherine Cresswell is a Clinical Psychologist working at Primary Healthcare Clinics to complete her Community Service for the Department of Health, Johannesburg, South Africa.


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How to Cite

Cresswell, C. (2017). Female agency in action: an examination of interactions in an online ‘Love and Relationships’ discussion forum. Gender and Language, 11(3), 365–388. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.27529