Expansion of prostitution demand policies and resistance in the global west: a comparative discourse analysis of canada, england, and northern ireland

Pottle, Holly
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Texas Woman's University

The development of prostitution policies continues to be a dynamic issue globally with new developments continually occurring. This dissertation integrates social constructionism and Michel Foucault’s theory of discourse to study how conflicting interests construct the main issues in prostitution public policy disputes and power dynamics involved. Specifically, the study focuses on disputes between multiple conflicting interests in legislative hearings and debates in England, Northern Ireland, and Canada on proposed end demand legislation- which refers to legislation with the stated emphasis on criminalizing the sex buyers rather than the sex providers in prostitution. Transcripts from legislative hearings and debates are the main data sources analyzed using NVivo software for qualitative coding and organization. This discourse analysis found that across the nations included, supporters and opponents of end demand legislation differed to an extent in their constructions of the main issues in prostitution policy disputes-including the meanings they attach to concepts including consent, victimization, harm reduction, and gender equality. These differing constructions shaped their conflicting positions on prostitution policies. The opponents of end demand tended to support non-criminalized systems of prostitution. Results indicate that interest groups’ power in shaping prostitution policies was based primarily on how well their ideologies aligned with those of powerful political parties. The vast majority of people testifying to legislatures on conflicting sides specified neither current nor past sex trade or sex industry experience. Of the testifiers who did, more identified as former sex workers or survivors of prostitution than as current sex workers.

Social sciences, Prostitution, Sex buyers, Sex providers, Social constructionism