Monthly Archives: April 2013

Weitzer, Ronald (2007): The Social Construction of Sex Trafficking: Ideology and Institutionalization of a Moral Crusade


The issue of sex trafficking has become increasingly politicized in recent years due to the efforts of an influential moral crusade. This article examines the social construction of sex trafficking (and prostitution more generally) in the discourse of leading activists and organizations within the crusade, and concludes that the central claims are problematic, unsubstantiated, or demonstrably false. The analysis documents the increasing endorsement and institutionalization of crusade ideology in U.S. government policy and practice.

Decriminalization of Sex Work: Feminist Discourses in Light of Research, by Jacqueline Comte (2013)

Three main ideological stances exist regarding sex work issues: abolitionism, sex-positive feminism, and decriminalization. We argue for decriminalization based on decades of research results. Research on female sex workers is most often done through feminist theory and focus on gender relationships and on the experience of oppression and/or agency. Such studies examine the motivations to do sex work, the experience of being objectified, the stigma related to sex work, and, finally, the impact of this kind of work on self-esteem, on couple relationships, and on social relationships. Research on male sex workers examines power dynamics, representations of masculinity, self-perception, and the socioeconomic conditions that lead to sex work and influence safe-sex practices. Usually, feminist approaches do not take the experiences of male sex workers into account. However, taking these experiences into consideration would give a broader perspective to the understanding of sex work, as the experiences of male sex workers show many aspects similar to those of female sex workers. We contend that a woman’s sexual experience has been socially constructed as being part of her identity, in such a way that she becomes socially devalued whenever she does not comply to norms, thus making sex work a ‘degrading’ experience even though it is not intrinsically so.


Impacts of the Swedish Criminalisation of the Purchase of Sex on Sex Workers (Jay Levy, 2011)

This paper draws on interviews and participant observation undertaken during
research I have conducted in Sweden since 2008. Outcomes of the Swedish
sexköpslagen, the 1999 law criminalising the purchase of sex, were investigated, with
Sweden being the first ever state to adopt such legislation.
Respondents of ongoing research include sex workers, politicians, NGO workers,
spokespeople for lobby and activist groups, police, healthcare providers and social
workers. Relationships have been established with Rose Alliance, Sweden’s only sex
workers rights collective, Stockholm and Malmö prostitution units, LBGT
organisation RFSL, and drug users rights organisations Svenskabrukarföreningen and
RFHL. These drug users rights unions have allied with sex work collective Rose
Alliance, reporting similar experiences with service providers and authoritative
groups, as well as similar alienation, patholigisation and exclusion from political
discourse, debate and evaluation. Additionally, a trip to Norway in a month will
involve an exploration of how the criminalisation of the purchase of sex has impacted
Norwegian sex work.
The paper will start with an examination of how sex work has come to be understood
in Sweden, tying this in with some discursive and legislative history. The main focus
will be a discussion of how discourses and legislation have come to impact service
provision and ideas surrounding harm reduction. The impacts of laws on levels and
spaces of sex work will additionally be discussed. I will not be discussing non-female
sex work or the patholigisation of sex buyers in Sweden, though these are additional
areas of research focus.

Policing Sex. Edited By Paul Johnson, Derek Dalton 

Book description:

This collection focuses attention on an important but academically neglected area of contemporary operational policing: the regulation of consensual sexual practices. Despite the high-level public visibility of, and debate about, policing in relation to violent and abusive sexual crimes (from child sexual abuse to adult rape) very little public or scholarly attention is paid to the policing of consensual sexual practices in contemporary societies. Whilst ‘sexual life’ is commonly understood to be a matter of ‘private life’ that is beyond formal social control, this book shows that policing is implicated in the regulation of a wide range of consensual sexual practices. This book brings together a well known and respected group of academics, from a range of disciplines, to explore the role of the police in shaping the boundaries of that aspect of our lives that we imagine to be most intimate and most our own. The volume presents a ‘snap shot’ of policing in respect of a number of diverse areas – such as public sex, pornography, and sex work – and considers how sexual orientation structures police responses to them. The authors critically examine how policing is implicated in the social, moral and political landscape of sex and, contrary to the established rhetoric of politicians and criminal justice practitioners, continues to intervene in the private lives of citizens.

It is essential supplementary reading for courses in criminology, law, policing, sociology of deviance, gender and sexuality, and cultural studies.