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Time, space, and the authorisation of sex premises in London and Sydney

Prior, Jason, Hubbard, Phil (2015) Time, space, and the authorisation of sex premises in London and Sydney. Urban Studies, 54 (3). pp. 633-648. ISSN 0042-0980. E-ISSN 1360-063X. (doi:10.1177/0042098015612057) (KAR id:51217)


While the regulation of commercial sex in the city has traditionally involved formal policing, recent shifts in many jurisdictions have seen sex premises of various kinds granted formal recognition via planning, licensing and environmental control. This means that ‘sexual entertainment venues’, ‘brothels’, or ‘sex shops’ are now not just labels applied to particular types of premise, but are formal categories of legal land use. However, these categories are not clear-cut, and it is not simply the case that changes in the law instantiate a change whereby these premises are bought into being at a particular point in time. Countering the privileging of space over time that is apparent within much contemporary research on sex and the city, this paper foregrounds the varied temporalities in play here, and describes how the actions of those policy-makers, municipal bureaucrats and officers allow sex premises to variously ‘fade in’, accelerate, linger or disappear as legal land uses within the city. We examine the implications of these different temporalities of the law by exploring how sex premises have been subject to regulation in London and Sydney, showing that the volatile, contradictory and fractured nature of legal space-making does not necessarily provide the certainty sought by the law but produces overlapping and contested understandings of what types of premise should be subject to regulation. More broadly the paper highlights how attention to the contingency and complexity of municipal law can help us better understand the ways that commercial sex is differently manifest in different cities

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/0042098015612057
Projects: [UNSPECIFIED] ‘Sexualisation, nuisance and safety: Sexual entertainment venues and the management of risk’
Uncontrolled keywords: commercial sex; legal geography; temporality; municipal law; governmentality.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Phil Hubbard
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2015 08:38 UTC
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2020 13:48 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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