The Economies of Prostitution. A Critical Sociology of Sex Tourism in Thailand
Contributor(s)Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire Solidarités, Sociétés, Territoires (LISST) ; École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) - Université Toulouse 2 (UT2) - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)
[SHS.SOCIO] Humanities and Social Sciences/Sociology
[SHS.ANTHRO-SE] Humanities and Social Sciences/Social Anthropology and ethnology
[SHS.GENRE] Humanities and Social Sciences/Gender studies
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AbstractBased upon field work conducted in Patpong – a neighborhood in Bangkok dedicated to tourist-prostitution – I put forth a critical sociology of “sex tourism” that, through the combination of an ethnographic and historical survey, attempts to typify the plurality of the economies that run through prostitutional exchanges. More than just money, prostitution involves material, moral, emotional and symbolic goods that are traded and circulate according to specific rationales. This ethnographic study, by revealing the diversity of exchanges between Thai citizens and international tourists, prevents simplifying unions to a mere univocal relationship of domination. On the contrary, exchanges in tourist-prostitution appear as the product of complex power relations that are embedded in a particular context. These different economies can only be understood when taking into account a plurality of upward scales (local, national and global). Therefore, this ethnographic approach is complemented by a moral genealogy of sex tourism that provides a historical background on the process that enabled the construction, definition and dissemination of this new proscription. By combining the practical reality of relationships with their historical definitions, the analysis of sex tourism is a way to rethink the globalization of sexual issues and their political impacts.
À partir d’une recherche conduite à Patpong, un quartier de Bangkok dédié à la prostitution touristique, je propose une sociologie critique du « tourisme sexuel » qui, en conjuguant enquête ethnographique et historique, tente de caractériser la pluralité des économies qui traversent les échanges prostitutionnels. Plus que de l’argent, la prostitution met en jeu des biens matériels, moraux, affectifs et symboliques qui s’échangent et circulent selon des logiques spécifiques. Ainsi, en révélant la diversité des échanges entre Thaïlandais-e-s et touristes internationaux, l’ethnographie empêche de réduire les unions à une relation de domination univoque. Les échanges prostitutionnels dans le tourisme apparaissent au contraire comme le produit de rapports de pouvoir complexes qui s’inscrivent dans un contexte particulier. Or ces différentes économies ne peuvent se saisir qu’à l’articulation d’une pluralité d’échelles (locale, nationale, mondiale). L’approche ethnographique est donc complétée par une généalogie morale du tourisme sexuel qui revient sur le processus historique ayant permis de construire, définir et diffuser ce nouvel interdit. Ainsi, en articulant la réalité pratique des relations à l’histoire de leur prise en charge, l’analyse du tourisme sexuel permet d’interroger la mondialisation des questions sexuelles et leurs effets politiques.
NNT : 2009EHES0010
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