The Campaign Against Sex Work in the United States: A Successful Moral Crusade

  • Ronald WeitzerEmail author


Sex work was not a prominent public issue in the USA a generation ago. Law and law enforcement were fairly settled. Over the past two decades, however, a robust campaign has sought to intensify the stigmatization and criminalization of the participants involved in all types of sex work, which are now conflated with human trafficking. These efforts have been remarkably successful in reshaping government policy and legal norms and in enhancing penalties for existing offenses. The article analyzes these developments within the framework of a modernized version of moral crusade theory that includes both instrumental and expressive arguments against sex work.


Moral crusade theory Polymorphous paradigm Sex work Sex trafficking Symbolic politics 



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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyGeorge Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA

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