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Governing Sex Work: An Agonistic Policy Community and its Relational Dynamics

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Few policy scholars have analyzed prostitution laws and the governance of sex work. This is unfortunate because the policy area is associated with societal problems, and the systematic study of public policy was initially conceptualized to address such problems. Moreover, this dearth is problematic for reasons related to how we conceptualize policy processes, actors involved in them, relationships among them, power structures characterizing them, and ultimately the significance of the policy. Prostitution laws in Canada, in terms of recent policy changes through constitutional challenges to criminal provisions and through practices of implementation in local governance, suggest the analytical usefulness of the policy community heuristic in capturing important relational dynamics. With a focus on relationships and not merely on structural and strategic linkages, it can capture many nuances in why dynamics change and what the implications of this change are for policy. Conceptually, this study suggests that agonistic relations emerge within policy communities that may be deeply divided when members experience or perceive catalyst events, cannot easily refute the evidence concerning factors contributing to these events, and converge on a clearly defined response to address problems associated with these events.
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Genevieve Fuji Johnson, "Governing sex work: an agonistic policy community and its relational dynamics," Critical Policy Studies (2015), DOI:
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Critical Policy Studies
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Governing Sex Work: An Agonistic Policy Community and its Relational Dynamics
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