The Decency of Place: Moral Contestation and the Market for Sexual Services
Previous research in economic sociology has demonstrated that shared moral sentiments restrict market expansion within societies. But what does it mean for existing markets to face moral contestation, especially in pluralizing societies? To investigate this constellation, the dissertation undertakes a case study into how the city of Cologne has dealt with commercial sexuality from the 1950s up to the present day. Building on findings on the symbolic charge of urban space, the project begins by reconstructing the spatial distribution of prostitution venues across the city and tracing their movement over time. It then focuses on the major contentions over the proper place for commercial sexuality and analyzes their trajectories as an interplay between critique, justification, and the production of evidence. Finally, it looks at the solutions found to the problem of place and examines them in terms of their impact on market exchange by paying attention to how they change the material and organizational arrangements of prostitution. The project uses document analysis, observation, and oral history. Project duration: October 2009 to January 2014.