Out of sight, out of mind? : discourse analysis of street sex trade governance in a small city

Lorry-Ann Marie Austin
This study utilized socio-cultural discourse analysis grounded in anti-oppressive social work perspectives to explore and develop a narrative account of one small city's response to the street sex trade. Discourse analysis was used to explore discursive representations of the street sex trade as they related to the governance actions of key players within the small city of Kamloops, British Columbia (BC) between 2002 and 2009. Media texts and civic government meeting minutes were collected and
more » ... nalyzed, revealing that two main responses developed over the time period under analysis (exclusion and rescue). Discursive analysis of these texts revealed that the visibility of the street sex trade motivated policy responses resulting in the complete rejection of the street sex trade in this small city. Further analysis revealed that themes of war and pollution encouraged the development of exclusionary policy responses while rescue policy responses were inspired by representations of the sex worker as a child-like victim. There was a noticeable absence of sex worker generated discourse within this policy debate. While based on different depictions of sex workers and the street sex trade, both policy responses were situated within the overriding visibility discourse and as a result, they both aimed to remove all evidence of a visible street sex trade. In the small city of Kamloops, BC a visible street sex trade was not tolerated as it often is in larger metropolises and policy responses forced it from public view. The complete rejection of the street sex trade in the small city may not be unique to Kamloops and the implications of exclusionary policy respones may increase the violence and marginalization experienced by sex workers in the small city context. Further research exploration is needed to understand the perspectives of sex trade workers and to include their views in the development of civic policy.
doi:10.14288/1.0073139 fatcat:vkyfnbopbjcyjefjifu7r2d3pe