What is at stake with street prostitution at Yser? Exploring an Open Approach for the Development of a Multi-Dimensional Problem Construction.

Date: 2 February 2018

Venue: UAntwerp - Stadscampus, Promotiezaal, Klooster van de Grauwzusters - Gebouw S , Lange Sint-Annastraat 7 - 2000 Antwerpen (route: UAntwerpen, Stadscampus)

Time: 1:00 PM

Organization / co-organization: Faculty of Social Sciences

PhD candidate: Kristien Gillis

Principal investigator: Prof. dr. Petra Meier

Short description: PhD defence Kristien Gillis - Department of Political Sciences.


In the Northern top corner of the pentagon that forms the capital of Brussels, there is a neighborhood called the Yser/Alhambra neighborhood, a neighborhood characterized by its growing residential activity and street prostitution. This research focuses on the different ways in which aspects of prostitution are perceived as problematic and the co-occurrence of such problem perceptions from people living or working in or around street prostitution at Yser. The question underlying this research is: what is perceived as at stake with street prostitution at Yser?

This research addresses both a social as a scientific problem on prostitution problem construction by focusing on prostitution as a multidimensional phenomenon. The way prostitution has been presented as a unidimensional issue by mainly activists and policymakers, is a widely shared concern by prostitution scholars. Especially since such unidimensional constructions are powerful in how prostitution is understood and governed in society. The main reason why dominant social problem constructions on prostitution are deficient, is that such problem constructions are limited to singular issues, neglecting or even dismissing different problem perceptions. The unpacking of prostitution as a multidimensional phenomenon, as in the coming together of a variety of problem perceptions from a variety of stakeholders about a variety of dimensions remains, however, underexplored.

This research presents a framework that makes it possible to approach prostitution as a multidimensional phenomenon to enable the development of a multidimensional problem construction. I argue for an approach related to organic public sociology (open approach) as best suited to develop a multidimensional problem construction.

I present three main issues that emerged as problematic when applying an open approach to the current research question. These three issues, nuisance, security and prostitution as a form of labor, in themselves already illustrate the variety of dimensions that are considered problematic or at stake with street prostitution at Yser. However, perceptions about the particular issues, vary as well. Only by considering the different issues together, the complexity of what’s at stake with street prostitution at Yser, becomes clear.

In this research, I emphasize that a multidimensional problem construction indicates that dealing with prostitution is a complex undertaking, as it often boils down to detecting, responding to and accepting of a variety of (possibly conflicting) problem perceptions. As such, it offers a contribution to both the scientific and social concerns, namely by promoting a more constructive understanding and recognition of prostitution as a multidimensional phenomenon.

Registration: per mail

Contact email: kristien_gillis@hotmail.com

Link: https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/rg/ced/