The Research

Thank you very much for your interest in our research. The questionnaire is now closed but you can still read about the research and us here...

We want to emphasise from the outset that the research we are conducting is unlike almost all the previous research that has been conducted on pornography.  In the past, pornography has overwhelmingly been assumed to be a ‘problem’, and the only really important questions to ask about it are – how much do people (and especially children) encounter it, and how great is the ‘harm’ that it does?  This research is different.


Our project is concerned with the everyday uses of pornography, and how the people who use it feel it fits into their lives. Pornography is of course a highly topical issue, subject to many opposing views and ‘strong opinions’. And we are not saying that there are no moral or political issues.  But we are saying that the voices of users and enjoyers have been swamped.  In fact, there is very little research that engages with the users of pornography, asking how, when and why they turn to it.


We want to gather the thoughts and responses of people who have chosen to use pornography of their own accord.  We believe that there can be many different and complicated reasons for looking at pornography.  We also don’t believe that all the materials that go under that label, ‘pornography’, are the same – only to be distinguished by how ‘extreme’ or ‘explicit’ they are.


We are hoping to gather thousands of responses from both frequent and infrequent users of pornography.  The more we can gather, the more confidently we will be able to present the results in the on-going public debates on this issue.  We want to know some very simple things, like what you view, how you find it, how often, what you particularly like, what is exciting and how this fits in with your feelings about sex, your body, and your pleasures.


If you don’t know us, we are happy to tell you about ourselves – via this [LINK], you can learn in detail about our previous work in this kind of area.  If you just want to move to the questionnaire, we will just say here that all three of us have been involved in questioning the basis of moral campaigns about the media.  Clarissa Smith has been researching pornography since the mid-1990s and has written widely about the problems of censorship and the attempts to legislate against sexually explicit materials. Feona Attwood’s research is in the area of sex in contemporary culture and controversial media. Martin Barker has been involved in such work since the early 1980s, beginning with the so-called ‘video nasties’ campaign.


Once the project is completed (towards the end of 2011), it will be made widely available, including via this website.


Clarissa Smith

Feona Attwood

Martin Barker