Social Theories and Prostitution

2468 Words Oct 28th, 2012 10 Pages
There are many sociological theories that can be used to explain prostitution in modern society. Two such theories are functionalism and symbolic interaction. Many people feel that prostitution may be an immoral act however, from a functionalist perspective there are social needs that are being filled through prostitution. Both social actors are gaining through the engagement of prostitution. Another sociological perspective; symbolic interactionism; focuses on the interaction that occurs between social actors. The labeling theory of symbolic interaction states that a prostitute is deviant only because he/she is labeled as such.
“The provision of sexual favors for financial reward has probably been institutionalized in the form of
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“The demand is the result of a simple biological appetite. When all other sources of gratification fail, due to defects of person or circumstance, prostitution can be relied upon to furnish relief” (Davis, 753). Prostitution in a latent sense saves marriages and allows men to fulfill their sexual desires. “Prostitution embraces an economic relation, and is naturally connected with the entire system of economic forces” (Davis, 749). One societal function that prostitution fills is a release for those who desire the prostitute (latent) and a source of income for the prostitute (manifest).
The foundation to the functionalist perspective is that everything occurs for a reason. It is necessary for a society to have rules and laws to abide by, society lives in a consensus. It is important to understand the need for there to be social memebers whom do not conform to society; in this case prostitutes. Since prostitution is against the law in the United States except for in Nevada then prostitution helps in the validation of law enforcement personnel. Since there are social actors not abiding the law there is a need for the police and sheriff’s departments to control the criminals. For a society to function there are rules and rule breakers. There can’t be one without the other. Symbolic
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