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Motsättningarnas marknad: Den pornografiska pressens kommersiella genombrott och regleringen av pornografi i Sverige 1950-1980
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
2010 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
A Market of Antagonism : The Commercial Breakthrough of the Pornographic Press and the Regulation of Pornography in Sweden 1950-1980 (English)
Abstract [en]

This thesis analyses the development towards a mass market pornographic press. Sweden (in addition to Denmark) is often described as a forerunner in this development when the so-called “porn wave” hit most of the Western world in the late 1960s. The “porn wave” was the starting point of the contemporary pornographic press, which put sexually explicit pictures on the international market. Denmark was the first country in the world to decriminalize pornographic pictures in 1969 and Sweden followed in 1971. While previous research in Sweden often blames decriminalisation for the growth of the pornographic market, this thesis shows that the “porn wave” preceded the alteration of the Freedom of the press act and thus calls for a more multifaceted analysis of the development.

Very few studies have been made about the development from an underground exclusive market of explicit pornography to a legal mass market. This thesis, however, makes a survey of all the Swedish publishers of pornographic magazines, their length on the market, and the market conditions. By analysing the regulation of pornography prior to 1971 and the legal cases leading to prosecutions of the publishers, the strategies used to challenge the regulation are traced. Special attention is also paid to how the monopoly on distribution held by Pressbyrån, a company owned by the Swedish press, affected the pornographic press. By cooperating and starting their own distribution channels, the pornography publishers managed to challenge Pressbyrån’s regulations.

Great emphasis is laid on the discursive construction of pornography in mass media and in the parliamentary debates. This thesis argues that the antagonisms between the pornographic press and its critics are central in understanding how pornography was perceived and that these debates have decisively impacted the market conditions. Sensation-seeking articles in the evening papers, and the politicians’ liberal attitudes towards the pornographic press, made the market seem more open and lucrative. The resistance towards the establishment of a mass market and explicit pornographic press was strong during the whole period – but these critics used quite varying arguments. By analysing these arguments, this thesis shows how the pornographic press touched on sensitive cultural norms regarding marriage, young people’s sexuality, homosexuality, gender and love.

The second half of the 1960s was a turning point in the development of the pornographic press, the discursive construction of pornography and in the political strategies used to combat pornography. In just a few years, the pornographic press grew substantially and started to publish explicit pictures of intercourse. In that same period, the construction of pornography went from a conservatively Christian understanding to a sexually liberal – and later to a feminist understanding of its problems. The government introduced a “porn raid” against the magazines, prosecuted many of them, and then paradoxically decriminalized pornography in 1971. Theoretically, the conclusion is made that pornography has to be seen in its historical context and in relation to its special market conditions. Since pornography continually has been a contested commodity, its controversial status has resulted in special regulations, marketing difficulties and lack of income from advertisements.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Lund: Sekel bokförlag , 2010. , 339 p.
Umeå studies in economic history, ISSN 0347-254X ; 42
Keyword [en]
Economic history, History of Sexuality, Pornography, Sweden, Business history, Media history, Obscenity Regulation
Keyword [sv]
Ekonomisk historia, Sexualitetshistoria, Pornografi, Företagshistoria, Mediehistoria, Sedlighetslagstiftning
National Category
Economic History
Research subject
Economic History
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-35990ISBN: 978-91-85767-61-8OAI: diva2:351239
Public defence
2010-10-08, Hörsal C, Samhällsvetarhuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2010-09-16 Created: 2010-09-13 Last updated: 2010-09-16Bibliographically approved

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