How Modern Governments Made Prostitution a Social Problem. Creating a Responsible Prostitute Population

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Presents an original and significant contribution to the study of female and male prostitution. It challenges common assumptions about prostitution embedded in scholarly and public discourses, especially the idea that the prostitute is an affront to private respectability and public order. Drawing upon Michel Foucault’s genealogical method, the author uses historical and contemporary materials to document the ways in which female and male prostitution have been constructed, contrived and imagined as ‘social problems’ over the course of two centuries.


“I was delighted to be asked to write this Preface: not only because I think the book’s genealogical analysis makes an important contribution to studies of both power and prostitution, nor because of the very pleasing accessibility of Dr. Scott’s style; but mainly because, in my opinion, the work opens up new and transformative possibilities for understanding prostitution discourses and policies in a variety of temporal and geographical contexts. At a time when the international trafficking of female sex-workers is constantly in the news; when war and want are seen to be ensnaring, enticing, engaging or even liberating many women and younger and younger children into the sex-trade; when HIV/AIDS are maiming or killing millions; when, globally, competing regimes of religious fundamentalism, neo-conservatism, and liberalism are all having strategic effects on prostitution’s local meanings, this book is a very timely must-read for campaigners, theorists and policy-makers.” – (from the Commendatory Preface) Pat Carlen, Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Criminology, University of Keele

“Dr. John Scott’s manuscript is beautifully written, extensively researched, tightly structured and superbly argued. The work demonstrates a scholarly command of a large and diverse body of historical and contemporary empirical detail and international body of theory and literature ... The argument draws on an array of intersecting intellectual perspectives from the social sciences, including feminism, criminology, public policy and post-structuralism and should appeal to a wide audience of international scholars, students and policy makers. I thoroughly recommend the publication of this manuscript and believe it will make a new and vital contribution to a topic of interest to a wide range of readers.” – Dr. Kerry Carrington, Head of Children, Youth and Families Unit, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

“This work is a significant and original contribution to the study of prostitution, and provides a model for future studies in this and related fields of enquiry, particularly the cultures of contagion, epidemics, moral disease, and polluted bodies ... The knitting together of historical and contemporary sources is exemplary. The application of Michel Foucault’s genealogical method is one of the finest I have read. The distinguishing feature of this study is the manner in which the author has presented the subject matter in an admirably clear and engaging style of writing, which draws the reader into the layered narratives without in any way oversimplifying the issues examined. The work is, at once, technically astute to satisfy the specialist, and so well executed it will be accessible to the informed non-specialist reader ... I have no doubt this book will become a standard reference, and be of particular importance for undergraduate and post graduate students in: crime and deviance, feminist, gender and women’s studies, reproductive health, and queer politics and theory. It will also have wide appeal outside the academy in law, policing, public policy, sexual health, and social welfare.” – Dr. Raymond Donovan, Research Director, The University of Newcastle

Table of Contents

Preface by Dr. Pat Carlen
1. Political Languages of Prostitution
2. Genealogical Analysis: Documenting The Disorder of Things
3. From Death Rituals to Health Practices
4. Policing Female Prostitutes
5. Private Remedies for Public Concerns
6. The Emergence of the Male Prostitute
7. From Procreation to Pleasure
8. HIV/AIDS and Prostitution

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