Making public policy in the digital age

The sex industry as a political actor

Authored by: Katharine Sarikakis

The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  December  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415527699
eBook ISBN: 9780203066911
Adobe ISBN: 9781135076955


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Significant shifts in the media over the past two decades have had a global impact on the industrial and cultural context within which pornography operates. The shifts involve the privatization of communication infrastructures, followed by re-regulation, aggressive market mergers, and domination leading to ownership concentration, inter-industrial alliances, and technological convergence (Chakravartty and Sarikakis 2006; McChesney 2004; Kamalipour and Rampal 2003). Media and culture industries have developed into political actors, organized across two core political economic activities: market management and policy management. A political actor is understood to demonstrate an “observable action that is purposive… and sufficiently unified so that it makes sense to speak of a single actor” (Page 1996: 20). Two parallel phenomena in the governance of pornography emerge: the sociocultural integration of pornographic imagery in everyday life, work, and “leisure” through new production, distribution processes, and consumption cultures; and the integration of pornography’s economic interests into public life and policy. Across these two axes the sex industry seeks to manage the market and the regulations that affect its long-term profit potential.

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