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Abstract

The visibility of striptease (‘lap dancing’) as a workplace and site of consumption has grown significantly over the past 15 years in the UK. This article draws on the first large scale study of stripping work in the UK, exploring original empirical data to examine why women continue to seek work in an industry that is profoundly precarious and often highly exploitative. It suggests that rather than either a ‘career’ or a ‘dead end’ job, many women use lap dancing strategically to create alternative futures of work, employment and education. It is argued that precarious forms of employment such as lap dancing can be instrumentalized through agentic strategies by some workers, in order to achieve longer term security and to develop opportunities outside the sex industry. As such, it is averred that engagement in the industry should instead be understood in a wider political economy of work and employment and the social wage.

Christine Harcourt and Basil Donovan, “The many faces of sex work” Sexually Transmitted Infections 2005; 81:201–206.

Objective: To compile a global typography of commercial sex work.
Methods: A Medline search and review of 681 “prostitution” articles was conducted. In addition, the investigators pooled their 20 years of collected papers and monographs, and their observations in more than 15 countries. Arbitrary categories were developed to compile a workable typology of sex work.
Results: At least 25 types of sex work were identified according to worksite, principal mode of soliciting clients, or sexual practices. These types of work are often grouped under the headings of “direct” and “indirect” prostitution, with the latter group less likely to be perceived or to perceive themselves as sex workers. In general, policing sex work can change its typology and location but its prevalence is rarely affected. The public health implications of sex work vary widely.
Conclusion: Developing comprehensive sexual health promotion programmes requires a complete understanding of the types of sex work in a particular area. This study provides a checklist for developing appropriate and targeted programmes.

Full text available here.

Alexandre, Michele, Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll and Moral Dirigisme: Toward a Reformation of Drug and Prostitution Regulations (November 23, 2009). UMKC Law Review, Vol. 78, No. 1, pp. 102-137, 2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1512062 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1512062

Abstract:

This Article builds upon various scholarly critics of moralistic laws to argue that legal prohibition of drugs and prostitution is inefficient. In so doing, it relies on economists’ scholarship, which has demonstrated that the high costs of regulation are not justified, considering the minimal success of these regulations as well as the harm caused by those regulations. Philosophers, for millennia, have grappled with formulating principles of morality and have attempted to determine which of those principles ought to be codified and imposed as societal rules of law on individuals. Attempts to coerce individuals into adopting certain behavioral patterns or forgo destructive ones have been referred to as “moral dirigisme”. Moral dirigisme manifests itself in “the attempt or tendency to control certain kinds of moral behavior by formal legal means.” (See, e.g., Mario J. Rizzo, The Problem of Moral Dirigisme: A New Argument Against Moralistic Legislation, 1 N.Y.U. J.L. & LIBERTY 789, 791 (2005). Moral dirigisme (John Stuart Mill, On Liberty 13 (Stefan Collini ed., 1989) (1859) is an economic term, which describes an economic structure for which the government provides strong direction. (See generally Élie Cohen, Le Colbertisme “High Tech”: Économie Des Telecom et du Grand Projet (1992); David Baker, The Political Economy of Fascism: Myth or Reality, or Myth and Reality?, 11 NEW POL. ECON., 157, 227-50 (2006). The term dirigisme derives from the French word diriger, which means to guide. (see WordReference.com, French to English Dictionary, (last visited Sept. 3, 2009). Moral dirigisme, by analogy, refers to the underlying philosophy which believes that moral behaviors can be changed through formal regulation. It is referred to, by Mario J. Rizzo, as “the attempt or tendency to control certain kinds of moral behavior by formal legal means.” (See Rizzo, supra note 2, at 791). Rizzo views acts by the state to prohibit or authorize certain conduct of individuals in an attempt to force them to act morally as flawed. Id. The laws prohibiting drugs and prostitution serve as perfect examples of implementation of a moral dirigiste philosophy. I contend in this Article that the dirigiste approach to drugs and prostitution is erroneous and inefficient.From Plato’s Socrates to Kant’s Categorical Imperatives to Hume’s observations, philosophers have confronted the nebulous intersection of absolutely necessary laws and purely beneficence-inducing laws, which cannot be implanted as a product of coercion. While the principles of justice have generally been perceived as capable of inspiring precise laws, other principles such as those guiding beneficence have been viewed by philosophers as more contingent on the individual’s state of mind or circumstances and less likely to be regulated by formal rules. This Article explores the proper role the law should play in regulating behaviors (such as drug use and/or in prostitution) that society deems harmful, but that are resistant to prohibition. Additionally, it considers items deemed harmful to the public, but not subject to any form of prohibition. Furthermore, it re-examines the consequences of U.S. drug and prostitution policy, focusing on the inevitable “black market” effects of the punitive style of enforcement, and initiates serious consideration of policy alternatives to discourage drug use and limit the number of vulnerable women engaging in prostitution.

Consequently, the Article is divided as follows. Part II considers the inefficiency of the prohibition of drugs and prostitution. Part III discusses the underlying legal and philosophical theories that support prohibitory legislation and analyzes why prohibition of drugs and prostitution, although a popular default mechanism, is ineffective at eradicating these behaviors. Part III also identifies the Smithian-Humean view of justice as a basis to evaluate prohibition-based laws. Part IV explores the issues inherent in the prohibition of drugs and considers alternative approaches. Part V explores issues that result from the prohibition of prostitution and Part VI proposes an alternative framework to the prohibition of prostitution. Part VII explores ways of preventing pro-prostitution regulations from strengthening the sex trafficking market. Finally, Part VIII borrows from philosophical frameworks to formulate a standard that helps differentiate between effective and ineffective prohibition. Through an analysis of the unintended effects of prohibition, this Article provides a strong economic and legal argument for the legalization of prostitution and, at the very least, marginal changes in U.S. drug policy.