Contested boundaries: The moralization and politicization of prostitution in German cities

Grohs, Stephan. 2019. ‘Contested Boundaries: The Moralization and Politicization of Prostitution in German Cities’. European Urban and Regional Studies.

The local regulation of prostitution in Germany is a contested area of urban politics. In this issue area, morality claims intersect with the material interests of home- and landowners and the security demands of ‘ordinary’ citizens. The Prostitution Law of 2001 has liberalized the legal framework: the legislation ‘normalized’ sex work, triggering the re-definition of urban strategies to regulate prostitution. This article analyses the conflict dynamics and the framing of conflicts over regulations in four German cities. It identifies the main actors, coalition-building processes and the framing of conflicts, and links these elements to the resulting policies. With regard to theory, it explores the relevance of classical explanatory approaches to local governance such as party politics, urban growth coalitions, political culture and bureaucratic politics to the value-laden issue of prostitution. It thereby contributes to the growing academic interest in the nature of morality policies and the question of the specific conditions under which prostitution is framed as a moral issue or as a ‘normal’ subject within urban politics.

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