Victims, Villains, and Valiant Rescuers: Unpacking Sociolegal Constructions of Human Trafficking and Crimmigration in Popular Culture

  • Edith KinneyEmail author


Increasing media attention to human trafficking in the U.S. has expanded awareness of the issue and mobilised campaigns for new anti-trafficking laws aimed to rescue victims and punish those who exploit them. This chapter analyses the sociolegal construction of the subjects of this narrative: victims, villains, and valiant rescuers. Drawing on investigative journalism, television shows, and movies that depict the “war against human trafficking”, I examine the framing of “trafficking” through narratives of crime, sexual risk, and crimmigration. The dual role of law as an instrument for vindicating victims and policing the risks posed by trafficking reflects the influence of “governing through crime” politics and “carceral feminism” in American anti-trafficking efforts. The sociolegal construction of trafficking subjects in American popular culture reveals the important influence of public frames processes in developing the criminal justice response to trafficking that typifies American responses to the problem.


Criminal Justice Human Trafficking Trafficking Victim Sexual Slavery Immigration Enforcement 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Justice StudiesSan José State UniversitySan JoséUSA

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