The Subject of Prostitution Sex Work, Law and Social Theory
The Subject of Prostitution offers a distinctive analysis of the links between prostitution and social theory in order to advance a critical analysis of the relationship of law to sex work.
Using the lens of social theory to disrupt fixed meanings the book provides an advanced analytical framework through which to understand the complexity and contingencies of sex work in late modernity. The book analyses contemporary citizenship discourse and the law's ability to meet the competing demands of empowerment by sex workers and protection by radical feminists who view prostitution as the epitome of patriarchal sexual and economic relations. Its central focus is the role of law in both structuring and responding to the 'problem of prostitution'. By developing a distinctive constitutive approach to law, the author offers a more advanced analytical framework from which to understand how law matters in contemporary debates and also suggests how law could matter in more imaginative justice reforms. This is particularly pertinent in a period of unprecedented legal reform, both internationally and nationally, as legal norms simultaneously attempt to protect, empower and criminalise parties involved in the purchase of sexual services. The Subject of Prostitution aims to overcome the current aporia in these debates and suggest new ways to engage with the subject and law.
As such, The Subject of Prostitution provides an advanced theoretical resource for policymakers, researchers and activists involved in contemporary struggles over the meanings and place of sex work in late modernity.
'Most debates about regulating prostitution assume that feminists all want to use criminal law to punish male customers and ‘send a message’ that prostitution exploits women. In this important and timely book, Jane Scoular develops an analysis of sex work laws, including anti-trafficking efforts, that is feminist but rejects the use of coercive law. Scoular’s nuanced approach is a breath of fresh air, and should be read both by feminists and by anyone interested in criminal law and criminal justice policy' - Mariana Valverde, University of Toronto, Canada.
'A clear, incisive scrutiny of law’s historical role in shaping and responding the prostitute as sinful, diseased, abused or rights bearing. Scoular shows how law matters less by what it formally says than by what it does. Her careful Foucauldian study exposes the complexity and contingency of sex work as an object of study that has generated so much tension and contradiction in the past and present. Essential reading for scholars, policy makers, and engaged citizens who want to break the stalemate between entrenched positions on prostitution as "forced and free" -- a first step to exploiting legal mechanisms towards the "unachievable goal of justice.' - Judith R. Walkowitz, Professor Emerita of History, Johns Hopkins University