DOES THE LAW MATTER? A COMPARATIVE NEWS MEDIA ANALYSIS OF REPRESENTATIONS OF SEX WORK ACROSS THREE JURISDICTIONS.
This thesis examines the role of the mainstream news media in representing sex work and sex workers in three legislative contexts. Sex workers have long been subject to stigma, which has serious implications, impacting their lives in myriad ways. The media is a dominant medium through which stigmatising discourses may be spread. Thus, examining media representations of sex workers is important to understand the media's role and how it interacts with other state apparatuses in producing stigma.
Using a sample of newspapers across two timeframes (2000 & 2018), this study indicates that when legislation shifts to decriminalise sex work, news media representation may shift to better accommodate the voices of sex workers and their advocates. These shifts operate to disseminate alternative representations for sex workers, allowing them to inhabit a wider range of subjectivities.