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SOC 2390
Michael A Dixon

Sociological Perspectives on Prostitution The Functionalist Perspective • The functionalist perspective argues that the presence of a certain amount of deviance in society contributes to its overall stability. According to Emile Durkheim, deviance clarifies social norms and helps societies to maintain social control over people’s behavior. By punishing those who engage in deviant behavior such as prostitution, the society reaffirms its commitment to its sexual norms and creates loyalty to the society as people bind together to oppose this behavior. • According to Kingsley Davis, in societies that have restrictive norms governing sexual conduct— including the United States—prostitution will always exist because it serves important functions: 1) Prostitution provides quick, impersonal sexual gratification that does not require emotional attachment or a continuing relationship with another person 2) Prostitution provides a sexual outlet for men who do not have ongoing sexual relationships because they are not married or have heavy work schedules 3) It provides people with the opportunity to engage in sexual practices (e.g., multiple sex partners, fellatio, cunnilingus, anal intercourse, sadomasochism) that regular sex partners or spouses may view as distasteful or immoral 4) Prostitution protects the family as a social institution by making a distinction between “bad girls” and “bad boys”—with whom one engages in promiscuous sexual behavior—and those “good girls” and “good boys” with whom one establishes a family 5) Prostitution benefits the economy by providing jobs for people who have limi
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