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Title: Policing the 'social evil' : prostitution in Edinburgh and Glasgow, 1892-1939
Author: Settle, Louise
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the formal and informal methods that were used to regulate prostitution in Edinburgh and Glasgow between 1892 and 1939 and explores the ways in which this influenced the lives of the women involved. Whilst there has been a considerable amount of research on prostitution during the nineteenth century, particularly in relation to England, the history of prostitution in Scotland during the early twentieth century has been relatively neglected. This thesis therefore begins to fill that lacuna. The thesis argues that in Edinburgh and Glasgow, the police, magistrates, voluntary organisations and the probation service increasingly worked together to develop a new 'penal-welfare' approach towards controlling prostitution. Consequently, women who were caught soliciting were increasingly placed on probation or sent to reform homes, rather than to prison. The thesis therefore explores the role of voluntary organisation and suggests that the methods that were used to reform women in accordance with middle-class understandings of femininity and domesticity were consequently transferred into official practice. Whilst social reformers may have wanted to banish prostitution from respectable society, the thesis demonstrates that, in practice, any attempt to remove prostitution from the centre of the city was unsuccessful, and women continued to work on some of the most prominent streets in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Moreover, an examination of the Edinburgh and Glasgow police and court records shows that, contrary to what happened in London during this period, prostitution was not increasingly criminalised, but that prosecution rates declined and the police became more reluctant to arrest prostitutes. Nonetheless, brothelkeepers and 'bullies' continued to be targeted by the police because of their assumed abuse of prostitutes. The thesis therefore examines the complexities of these different relationships. By focusing on the lives of the women involved in prostitution, the thesis argues that women primarily continued to engage in prostitution due to poverty and a range of wider socio-economic factors that encouraged them to seek the higher wages that prostitution provided. Elowever, although poverty, abuse and exploitation remained a common feature in the lives of many of the women involved in prostitution, this thesis explores the numerous ways in which women attempted to negotiate those difficulties. Whilst the women were not always successful in resisting the institutions and individuals who attempted to control or exploit them, by exploring the experiences of the women, this thesis highlights their historical agency, something which has too often been overlooked.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available