Pornography in a Free Society / Edition 1

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Pornography in a Free Society deals with what has been called the "civil war over smut." The past two decades have been high seasons for pornography commissions. They were appointed in the United States in 1968, in Great Britain in 1977, in Canada in 1985, and in the United States again in 1985. In the United States, the report of the first commission was denounced as a pornographer's charter and that of the second as a reflection of the moral militancy of the Reagan counterrevolution. The authors look at the problems of pornography in a broader perspective than that of partisan political debate. They explain why it has become so controversial and divisive an issue in Western nations in recent decades. They discuss the radical feminist challenge to pornography and the question of pornography and children. Considering likely future developments, the authors argue that the furor over pornography and the appointment of commissions are part of a "ceremony of adjustment" to widespread availability of sexually explicit material and they predict less social concern about pornography as time passes. Franklin E. Zimring is Professor of Law and Director of the Earl Warren Legal Institute. Gordon Hawkins is Senior Fellow, Earl Warren Legal Institute at the University of California, Berkeley. Together they have written Capital Punishment and the American Agenda (1986), and The Citizen's Guide to Gun Control (1987).

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a highly informative and thought-provoking book. It makes a worthwhile contribution to our understanding of public policy and pornography." Ethics

"It is certainly the best and most intelligent work about pornography for a long time." John Kaplan, Stanford Law School

"[] intelligent and scholarly, yet easy to read work on a controversial, often emotional topic." Choice

"Overall, I consider this to be not only an excellent overview of the current psychological research in the area of pornography but also an interesting and enlightening journey into the public policy area. I believe that it is essential reading for anyone who is interested in the topic from a research or policy perspective...It should be mandatory reading for everyone interested in the topic, no matter what side they consider themselves to be on in this never-ending debate." Contemporary Psychology

Library Journal
The authors, both academicians, comparatively analyze the findings of two controversial U.S. government-supported studies of pornography, the so-called Johnson Commission, which issued a liberal report in 1970, and the Meese Commission, whose conservative report appeared in 1986. References are also included to the 1979 British Williams Committee on Obscenity. Within this context, such pertinent questions as pornography's potentially deleterious effects, its misogynistic nature, and its role in sexual abuse of children are examined. A scholarly work, the goal is ``more to comprehend the problems of pornography in a free American society than to solve them.''-- Kenneth F. Kister, Poynter Inst. for Media Studies, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Taking off from an analysis of recent pornography commission reports in the US, Great Britain and Canada, Hawkins and Zimring attempt to move the pornography debate outside the partisan political arena. They discuss the relationship of pornography to the status of women and to the protection of children, and consider censorship issues connected to the control of pornography. They find that Western nations are going through a period of adjustment to the availability of sexually explicit material, and conclude that social concern about pornography is likely to diminish over time. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521406000
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 236
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Table of Contents

List of tables and figures; Preface; Acknowledgements; Part I. Pornography and the Pornography Commissions: Introduction; 1. Experts on what? The origins and composition of pornography commissions; 2. On definitions; 3. The nature and distribution of pornography in the United States; 4. Pornographic communication and social harm: a review of the reviews; 5. Freedom of expression and the public law of pornography; Part II. Public Policy After Liberalization: Introduction; 6. Pornography and the subjugation of women: the radical feminist challenge; 7. Pornography and child protection; 8. Pornography in perspective: social response in the noncensoring society; 9. Notes toward the future; References; Index.

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