Historien om den prostituerede: En genealogisk analyse af prostitutionens opkomstbetingelser

Anne Walsøe

Student thesis: Master thesis


This master's thesis investigates, from a sociological viewpoint, how society observes the female prostitute as a phenomenon, and how she has been formed by different handling strategies over time. The motivation for unfolding this subject has its source in the wondering about how the prostitute has become an object of so many societal problematisations today. Why does there seems to be such a massive need to achieve knowledge about, discuss and handle prostitution in our society today. How did the prostitute become an object that everybody seems to have an opinion about? Why is it so hard to figure out how to handle her, why does she need to be handled at all, and why is the prostitute and the costumer always so absent in the discussion about prostitution? This thesis answers the question: How has the prostitute been formed by certain dispositifs over time? This question has been sought answered based on a Foucault inspired analysis with an emphasis on his two analytical concepts; genealogy and the dispositif. These concepts has formed the analysis on how the modern perception of the prostitute has emerged, from when she first appeared in Danish legislation in 1496 up until the end of the regulated prostitution in 1906. The analysis shows how our perception of the phenomenon the prostitute today has been formed by former strategies, concerning the risk of infection she was considered to be, both in terms of health and morality. It also shows how she on one hand was the object of severe investigating and production of knowledge by the police, authorities and medical science, while she at the same time was restricted, suppressed and made taboo. This double mechanism began in the 19th century and is now reoccurring in the handling of the prostitute today – although in a different form. Finally the analysis also documents a trail back in time that explains how the prostitute has become one of the monsters of our time. Today she appears as such in the form of a victim, whereas formerly she was perceived as a monster because of her incorrectable, wrong and unnatural behaviours. In both cases, it is the perception of her nature as monstrous, that explains how she both then and now is considered illegitimate, and therefore can be viewed by society as a subject without the same legal rights as others.

EducationsMSocSc in Political Communication and Managment, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2010
Number of pages86