Californian 'John Schools' and the social construction of prostitution

Gurd, Amy & O'Brien, Erin (2013) Californian 'John Schools' and the social construction of prostitution. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 10(2), pp. 149-158.

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Within political and social arenas, prostitution continues to be a highly contested and debated issue. Generally conceptualised as a ‘problem’ in need of eradication, prostitution is strongly linked to immorality and deviance. The methods of addressing this phenomenon have experienced a shift from focusing predominantly on the sex worker, to directly targeting the clients of commercial sex. Such practices have resulted in the creation of policy initiatives such as ‘John Schools’—diversionary programs for clients, or ‘Johns’ who have been arrested for prostitution offences. The programs aim to educate participants on the various harms and risks associated with such behaviour and claim to offer a means to reduce prostitution by targeting the demand for sexual services. It is evident however, that these programs perpetuate traditional social constructions of prostitution, characterising the act, and the actors, as sexually deviant. This paper examines the curriculum of these programs in order to identify how prostitution is constructed—firstly through the depiction of the victims in the program and secondly through the characterisation of prostitution offenders—and argues that such initiatives merely extend the charge of sexual deviance from the sellers of sex to the buyers,whilst failing to acknowledge autonomy and choice for sex workers and clients.

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5 citations in Scopus
3 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 59294
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1007/s13178-013-0117-6
ISSN: 1868-9884
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > CRIMINOLOGY (160200)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > POLITICAL SCIENCE (160600)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Crime & Justice Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Justice
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York
Copyright Statement: The final publication is available at
Deposited On: 24 Apr 2013 04:04
Last Modified: 04 Jul 2014 14:40

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