Dialogical Demand: Discursive Position Repertoires for a Local and Global UK Sex Industry

Abstract

The increasing incidence of ‘trafficking’ has added an incontestably disturbing dimension to the contestable nature of a ‘non-trafficked’ UK sex industry. Men who buy sex remain under-researched, though some studies have indicated ambivalence within men’s attitudes. This study combines a critical discursive psychology in support of dialogical self theory. Secondary data, from prominent UK media resources, were analysed using Edley’s (2001) method of combining ‘interpretative repertoires’, ‘ideological dilemmas’ and ‘subject positions’. Contrasting discursive practices indicative of wider ideological conflict were found. Discursive concepts were ‘mapped’ onto Hermans and Hermans-Konopka’s (2010) ‘I-positions’ to explore how these potentially dilemmatic positions might be understood in terms of identity production. The function of ‘uncertainty’, particularly salient with the increasing complexity of globalisation, was considered a factor in how men’s identities might be limited by the current discursive space. A ‘dialogical’ model of self is introduced as a framework for understanding how men who buy sex might take up new, inclusive, positions. A corollary is reflected upon; that researchers, activists and buyers alike, who remain ideologically inflexible, may be sustaining the conditions for coercion through their contribution to the discursive conflict. The synthesis of discursive and dialogical analytical tools is recommended for investigating the production of selves in contested spaces.

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