During the autumn of 2008, I started my doctoral studies in social anthropology at Lund University. The working title of my thesis is: The Swedish Sex Purchase Ban: Ethnography of a Law.
There are many features about the Swedish ban on sex purchase that can be approached from a social anthropological perspectives: there is a gap between its claimed success and documented effects, the discourse is emotionally and morally charged, and it is a legal prohibition (rather than a policy) that different actors in Sweden wish to export and which those abroad seek to import. However, the law is never imported directly. It may be distorted and of course, rejected. Hence, the sex purchase law thus has different sets of meanings to the the different actors involved. It is a field of moral and political conflict, with its set of perpetrators, victims, witnesses and advocates.
My Ph.D. research explores the functions of the Sex Purchase Ban and links these to wider socio-political events and discourses. It seeks to understand the law’s intentions, meanings and aims within its cultural context. One could also articulate it like this: What problem is the Sex Purchase Ban an answer to? In what way can the law be a key, a window, to understanding something else about the role of law, and ‘legal export’, in modern societies? What is that something else?
I have utilised a multi-sited fieldwork methodology, having visited several countries where there was a discussion about importing the Swedish law, and have done participant-observation and interviews in a variety of legal and policy forums connected with sex workers and anti-prostitution venues. My theoretical orientation is a combination of political anthropology, legal anthropology, moral anthropology and the anthropology of policy.
The first three years of the PhD were funded by a grant from the Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation, and the final year via doctoral employment at Lund University.