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TitleLaw, science and the female body: prostitution as a “boundary object”
Author(s)Silva, Manuel Carlos
Machado, Helena
Silva, Susana
Female body
Social control
Issue date2001
Abstract(s)The conceptualisation of the female body as a sexual and reproductive object has been for a long time a focus of both law’s and science regulation. Considering the specific sexual objectification of the phenomenon of prostitution in Portugal, we aim to analyse how the cultures of law and science, which claim to be self-regulating and independent from other knowledges and practices, are in fact mutually constitutive and jointly produce dominant ideas about women’s bodies, women’s sexuality and women’s place in society. According to this, we intend to emphasize how the social phenomenon of female prostitution can be described as a “boundary object”, since it is plastic enough to adapt itself to both law and science procedures, and yet robust enough to maintain a common and recognizable identity trough those two different institutions. The representations of law and science as different but complementary enterprises towards female prostitution create constantly negotiable boundaries and a clear fluidity of work divisions that have in common the feature of providing the basis to define the prostitute as out of the regulated and authorized boundaries of proper feminine behaviour. The position of law and science in a hierarchy of knowledges allows a very direct control over the prostitutes’ bodies and behaviours in such ways that it reinforces the reproduction of women in a sexualised, subjugated and disqualified way.
TypeConference paper
DescriptionComunicação apresentada na 5th Conference of the ESA - "Visions and Divisions", 28 August - 1 September, 2001, Helsinki, Finland.
AccessOpen access
Appears in Collections:CECS - Comunicações / Communications
DS/CICS - Comunicações em encontros internacionais/Papers at International Meetings

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