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Title: Institutionalization
Contributor(s): Scott, John (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2006
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Abstract: During the 18th and 19th centuries, prostitution came to be understood as a potentially disruptive element in the management of society. New forms of social control developed that sought to transform the souls of prostitutes to better control their bodies. Institutions for managing prostitutes, such as Magdalen Homes and lock hospitals, were introduced or increased in number throughout the British Empire, North America, and Western Europe. Often these institutions had as their stated objective the physical purification and moral reform of prostitutes, appearing to make a dramatic break with earlier methods of social control that had relied on practices of physical punishment and spatial segregation. Emergent institutions for the social control of prostitutes used a regimen of religious training, hard labor, and medical expertise. The objective of the Magdalen Home was not to punish sin but to absolve it, while the function of the lock hospital was not simply to confine the ill, but to confine the ill to "cure" them. The role of these institutions was not only symbolic, mirroring in some way the operation of earlier forms of social control, but was also practical and transformative. The mass institutionalization of prostitutes that occurred during the 18th and 19th centuries produced and emphasized sexual, class, and gender boundaries, grounded in the broad distinction between "pure" and "impure" women. Because of its association with sin, prostitution before the 18th century had been constructed as a religious problem relating to salvation and penitence. Throughout Western Europe during the Middle Ages, prostitutes, like the medieval leper and the Jew, were subject to restrictions designed to distinguish and isolate them from other members of their communities. The repression of prostitution during the Middle Ages was neither systematic nor highly organized, although it reinforced the image of the prostitute as sinful "other".
Publication Type: Entry In Reference Work
Source of Publication: Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work, v.1: A-N, p. 225-227
Publisher: Greenwood Press
Place of Publication: Westport, United States of America
ISBN: 0313329680
Field of Research (FOR): 160202 Correctional Theory, Offender Treatment and Rehabilitation
160205 Police Administration, Procedures and Practice
HERDC Category Description: N Entry In Reference Work
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