ExLegi Seminar location:University of Oxford date:25 October 2010
A strange yet non-negotiated division of labour seems to exist between economists and sociologists investigating markets of commercial sexual interaction. Though the former haven’t paid that much attention to prostitution, economic contributions stand out because of their bold theorizing of ‘big’ questions: why is there prostitution, what is its nature, how can we predict size, price and structure of these markets? Sociologists on the other hand excel at careful empirical surveys revealing a thorough acquaintance with the subject matter. I will give a talk about my prostitution research, and the inspiration it draws from both fields. The general idea is that economic contributions often ask the right questions, but that sociology has more valid contributions to make. In particular the concepts of social norms and inequality are introduced as important explanatory building blocks. This will be illustrated with the help of empirical research into the following questions: * What determines the size of prostitution markets? * How do clients reconcile the market logic of prostitution with the intimate nature of sexual intercourse? * What explains the persistence of unsafe sexual practices in prostitution?