This licentiate thesis describes the Swedish pornography policy and how this policy affected the pornography industry. The main aim of the study is to survey the development of the Swedish porn industry 1950-2000 and to consider how it was imagined both as an industry, and as a commercialized form of sexuality. The focus is on the relationship between the pornography industry and the state, and to study this relationship, the thesis is divided into three different but related parts.
The first part concerns the institutional settings with main focus on the abolition of censorship in 1971. The political debates about legalizing pornography are studied in order to ascertain how industry and its actors are conceptualized in this context. It also draws attention to why regulation of the industry was considered necessary in the first place, as well as the how changes in the legislation affected the economic development of the industry itself.
The second part concerns the Swedish pornographic press. My purpose is to map out all publishing houses that produced pornographic magazines from 1950 to 2000, and to chart some aspects of their economic fortunes. The history of pornography and connections to technological change is also studied in terms of estimating the influence of the video breakthrough on sales figures and market strategies for the publishing houses that had to deal with this development.
In the third part, I study the regulation in action, i.e. when the publishers of pornographic magazines are prosecuted. I analyze all of the pre-1971 prosecutions – that is, the prosecutions that took place before regulation was removed. Using these records, it is possible to determine how the regulation was implemented, what content was considered harmful, and how that changed over time. This material, that includes the preliminary investigations from the police, also shows how the pornography producers handle the institutional settings to escape responsibilities and punishment.
In this thesis, I show that the pornography industry in Sweden has a complex and changing relationship to the state. Although pornography is unwanted by politicians during the period, pornography is allowed to publish pictures without any restriction on sexual content in the 1970s. The argument for the deregulation is that censorship is incompatible with a modern democratic and liberal state. Pornography serves as a modern dilemma when the phenomenon is viewed as incompatible with a modern society, conflicting with the goal of gender equality, and when a regulation is seen as incompatible with the idea of basic liberties in a modern democracy.
When it comes to the industry it shows that, quite unexpected, a lot of companies are run by women or as family businesses. There are no empirical grounds for the claim that pornography is an all male industry then, at least not in the Swedish case. The study also shows that the Swedish pornography industry was well established before the law change.
Umeå: Ekonomisk historia , 2007. , 126 p.
Economic History, Pornography industry, Sexual Policy, Pornographic Press, Pornography, Sweden