Between Emotional Politics and Biased Practices—Prostitution Policies, Social Work, and Women Selling Sexual Services in Denmark

Abstract  
This article is an exploration of current Danish discourses on prostitution based on a material consisting of long-standing
ethnographic fieldwork in the field of street prostitution, including interviews with sex workers, counselors, and policy
makers, and of analyses of legal documents, newspaper articles, and evaluative reports commissioned by governments. The article
outlines a polarized debate about possible change to the current legislation and how the ‘othering’ and victimizing rhetoric
of main actors are based on generalization and biased estimations and a mutual blaming for “stealing the voices” of sex workers.
It is demonstrated how this polarized and victimizing discourse mediated by social workers in encounters with women in prostitution
reduces the women’s possibilities to perform rationality and thus their ability to gain relevant capital in the eyes of the
counselors. By reducing the women in prostitution to victims, the media and the social system in the last instance can be
said to rob them their status as ‘citizens.’

  • Content Type Journal Article
  • Pages 1-11
  • DOI 10.1007/s13178-012-0091-4
  • Authors
    • Jeanett Bjønness, Skovsbjergvej 6, 8680 Ry, Denmark
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