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SOC103 Reading Sociology Section 16

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Lorne Tepperman

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PART XVI – MEDIA Chapter 64 – Fallen Women and Rescued Girls: Social Stigma and Media Narratives of the Sex Industry in Victoria, BC, from 1980 to 2005 - To gauge the empirical distance between media depictions and workers’ lived reality - To understand how the media contributes to constructing, reproducing, and deepening the social stigmas associated with working in the sex industry o Sex industry workers deserve similar rights and protections as other legitimate workers - Changes o Assigning criminal and moral culpability to sex industry workers disappeared after the late 1980s o Responsibility is moved away from individual workers and toward others (e.g., clients, pumps, sex trade) o Decline in discussions suggesting that community support systems (e.g., religious organizations, schools, families) are responsible for the sex industry problem - Results o Sex industry workers are portrayed as vectors of contagion (e.g., moral pollutants, sources of disease) o Sex industry work is portrayed as an acute and a serious social problem o Media narratives focus almost exclusively on outdoor sex work o Dominant media coverage focuses on women of different age groups  Men appear only as clients, pimps, or law enforcers o Media authors relied on one of three broad narrative conventions when writing news stories about the sex industry (e.g., contagion, culpability, risk)  Contagion  Sex work is a reservoir of urban malaise (e.g., violence, drug addiction, disease, degraded neighborhoods, violence). Sex workers pose a risk to innocent others.  Culpability  Sex industry workers are not criminally culpable, but they are morally culpable. They are immune to legal and moral norms because laws against soliciting by prostitutes are unenforceable.  Workers are recast as victims  More discussions of criminal culpability to pimps  Risk  Sex workers are incapable of making safe and reasonable choices, which increases their risk of violence, entrapment, and seduction. o Media narratives perpetuate social stigmas of sex industry workers (e.g., contagion, victimization, criminality, little relevance to middle-class lives)  Difference in the descriptions of work activities and workers’ feelings  Media depictions o Emphasize violence, forced or abusive circumstances, community nuisance o Offer one kind of explanation for entry into the sex industry (e.g., entrapment) o Do not emphasize the work aspects of the sex industry  Worker interviews o Talk about the many mundane and routine aspects of the work they do o Variety of circumstances that precipitated their entry into the sex industry (e.g., enticed, peers involved, employment ad, approached with offer of money for sex)  Mostly economic duress was the main motivating factor o Most important aspect of the sex industry is the source of income for living costs - Conclusion o Media narratives  Tell us little about what sex workers do for a living  Follow cultural scripts (e.g., sex industry is presented as morally lost and legally corrupt, vectors of social and physical malaise) to organize what is newsworthy  Pay attention to the illicit aspects (e.g., trading sex for money), while the ordinary reality is ignored  Reproduce social stigmas (e.g., sex industry workers are morally, mentally, and psychologically damaged) Chapter 65 – Feminist Activists Online: A Study of the PAR-L Research Network - To assess the effectiveness of PAR-L for feminist activism o PAR-L is a bilingual electronic network of individuals and organizations interested in feminist action and research on policy issues in Canada o The importance of PAR-L is indicated by quantitative measures - Strengths o Brings women together from different areas o Valuable source of information o Alternative to mainstream media of feminists in Canada o Helpful for research by academic feminists o Provides a discussion forum o Exposes readers to competing feminist views o Minimizes sense of isolation as feminists o Contributes to sense of well-being - Weaknesses o Benefits don’t apply to individual feminists’ psychological well-being and mental health - Frustrations o Lack of adherence by subscribers to the list guidelines (e.g., format of messages) o Inconsistent enforcement of (and narrow) list policies by the list moderators o Tone of certain exchanges o Questionable conduct of a few participants o Described the list as elitist  Exchanges favour an academic or intellectual type of feminism over a community-based feminism  Older or mainstream feminists react strongly and use their authority o Absence of male feminists o Over-posting and cross-posting between related discussion forums Chapter 66 –“Keeping Your Minds Sharp”: Children’s Cognitive Stimulation and the Rise of Parenting Magazines, 1959- 2003 - There is a changing ethos of parenting in Canada based on parenting magazines and articles o Parenting is a deliberative undertaking or strategy o Over time, Canadian parenting articles increasingly emphasize schooling and children’s academic skills - The analysis of parenting magazines reveals three trends
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