Researching Sex Work in Sweden: Lessons from the Field
Researching sex work involves challenges on multiple levels. This is especially true in Sweden, where laws prohibting sex work are closely related to Sweden’s self-understanding as a nation of equal rights, gender equality and humanitarian treatment of vulnerable groups. In this seminar, we discuss the challenges and lessons that can be learned by engaging in this controversial topic. We will highlight the differences between Petra’s long-term research interest in sex work policy, including the public debate, and Isabelle, who has recently entered the field without this kind of ‘baggage’.
Petra Östergren is an author and PhD candidate in Social Anthropology at Lund University. Her 2006 book Porr, horor och feminister (Porn, Whores and Feminists) is an analysis of the Swedish anti-pornography and prostitution discourse from the mid-1970s to 2005. Her current research focuses on the functions of the Swedish Sex Purchase Ban, placing it in a wider cultural-political context. She is also the Swedish project leader within the EU research project Demand-side Measures against Trafficking (DemandAT).
Isabelle Johansson is also a PhD candidate in Social Anthropology at Lund University. She researches issues of migration, sex work and trafficking, especially the nexus between policy frameworks and the subjective understandings of local actors. Her previous research explored Swedish anti-trafficking policy and anti-trafficking measures in Italy. In the DemandAT project she will be looking at how 'demand' is being tackled in three different policy models addressing sex work.