Beyond the Gaze and well beyond Wolfenden: the practices and rationalities of regulating and policing sex work in the digital age

Jane Scoular, Jane Pitcher, Teela Sanders, Rosie Campbell, Stewart Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
89 Downloads (Pure)


Drawing on the largest study of the United Kingdom online market in sexual labour to date, this article examines the legal and regulatory consequences as aspects of sex work increasingly take place within an online environment. Our research shows that while governmental policy has not kept abreast of these changes, the application of current laws (which have, since the 1950s, focused on public nuisance and, more recently, trafficking and modern slavery) are pernicious to sex workers and unsuited to recognizing and responding to the abuses and exploitation in online markets in sexual labour. These injustices are likely to be exacerbated if policies and policing do not better align with the realities of these markets in the twenty-first century. This demands a more nuanced regulatory approach which recognizes that people may engage in sex work of their own volition, but which also addresses conditions of labour and criminal exploitation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-239
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Law and Society
Issue number2
Early online date20 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2019


  • sex work
  • regulation
  • digital age

Cite this