To trade in Sex: Regulation, Liberalization or Criminalization? Prostitution Politics in Sweden 1930-2000

Project leader

Funding source

Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ)

Project Details

Start date: 01/01/2003
End date: 31/12/2004
Funding: 1290000 SEK


The overarching aim of this project is to investigate how prostitution has been discussed in Sweden during the period 1930-2000. This aim is formulated against the background of Swedish politics on prostitution now being radically different from other parts of the Western world. Some countries in Europe have legalized prostitution, while the Swedish law criminalizes the purchase of sexual services. It came into effect in 1999 and is unique. How is this to be understood? Are there historic explanations to why this kind of law came about in Sweden? During the last years the debate on prostitution in Sweden has changed. Earlier it was mainly discussed as exploitation and the subjection of women. Now arguments for looking upon prostitution as sex work are frequently heard. How can prostitution be understood - theoretically, historically and from a social political perspective?

The project will investigate different actors and their discussion of prostitution during seventy years. The empirical areas will be the parliamentary debates on prostitution, how sexual liberal debaters in the 1960s discussed prostitution, how the women's movement talked about the question, and how media has dealt with this issue, particularly during the 1990s. The part of the investigation which concerns the later period, will also discuss the development in countries which have legalized prostitution.

Last updated on 2017-24-03 at 12:52