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Prostitution, Power and Freedom

  • ID: 2249281
  • Book
  • December 1998
  • 240 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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Prostitution is still the subject of intense controversy among feminists but theoretical and political analyses are often only loosely grounded in empirical research. This book offers new perspectives on prostitution based on wide–ranging research in nine countries and extensive work with prostitute users.

Prostitution, Power and Freedom contains a great deal of original research including interviews with male and female sex tourists, adult and child prostitutes, procurers, and clients. O′Connell Davidson demonstrates the complexity of prostitution, arguing that it is not simply an expression of male oppression and violence or insatiable sexual needs, nor is it an unproblematic economic encounter. Using a range of theoretical analyses, she shows it to be a complex relationship where economics, gender, age, race, class, power and ′choice′ intersect.

The result is a more sophisticated understanding that uncovers the economic and political inequalities underlying prostitution, but also shows that while prostitution necessarily implies certain freedoms for the client, the unfreedoms experienced by individual prostitutes vary greatly.

This highly accessible book will be of great interest to those in gender and women′s studies, sexuality and cultural studies, the sociology of work and organization, and social policy as well as the general reader.

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Part I Dimensions of Diversity.

1. Power, Consent and Freedom.

2. Patterns of Pimping.

3. Independent Street Prostitution.

4. Independent Prostitution and Tourism.

5. Power and Freedom at the Apex of the Prostitution Hierarchy.

Part II Prostitution and the Eroticization of Social Death.

6. Narratives of Power and Exclusion.

7. Eroticizing Prostitute Use.

8. Through Western Eyes: Honour, Gender and Prostitute Use.

9. Diversity, Dialectics and Politics.




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"Here at last is a book that takes on board all the significant strands in the recent debates about prostitution and draws them together into a sustained and provocative discussion."
Mary McIntosh

"Julia O′Connell Davidson has woven a fascinating tapestry, combining meticulous portraiture with bold design. Based on careful and wide–ranging ethnographic study of prostitution across a variety of cultures, but framed within a strong structural analysis of power relations, this is a powerful picture of the limits to the agency of women and children in a world of continuing inequalities and exploitation." Jeffrey Weeks, Professor of Sociology, South Bank University, London

"O′Connell Davidson draws imaginatively on labour process analysis, feminism, psychoanalysis and political theory to unpick the power relations in prostitution and the many discursive levels at which it is understood and rationalised...Her book is beautifully written and never obtuse, challenging and morally committed...it is among the very best studies we have, not only on prostitution but more generally on work, gender and sexuality." Jackie West, Work, Employment and Society.

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