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Question : You are sociologist uses the conflict perspective to study various

aspects of our society. How do you think you would interpret the practice of
prostitution? Contrast this view with the functionalist perspective. Do you think
your comments would differ if you took the feminist view, and if so , how ?

Answer :

Prostitution is one topic in which the practice of it have been debated by


many. Whether it is moral or immoral, legitimacy or illegitimacy, if being a
sociologist, we should view it in different perspectives.

There are a lots of definition of prostitution, but it can be simply


understood that prostitution is: Engaging in the sexual activity with another
person in exchange for compensation, such as money or other valuable goods.

From that, the functionalists suggest that prostitution have still existed
widely because it does somehow serve the society. We all have to accept that
prostitute does have manifest function, and that is a job ! Because a prostitute
makes living through the exchange. Besides that,it’s latent function is to provide
the sexual outlet for those who are not competitive in the marriage market , such
as : physically handicapped, mentally handicapped , the poor … Moreover, in an
exchange, the buyer’s needs are met without any responsibility to the “seller”.
The evaluation of the dysfunction of prostitution depends on the country’s culture
and society. For instance, in Vietnam prostitution is illegall. It is a major social
issue that particularly affects women,children and generally recognised as a risk
factor in the transmission of HIV infection. In constrast, prostitution in Thailand is
illegal too, but in practice it is tolerated and regulated. One noteworthy thing is
that many Thai women believe the existence of such prostitution actively reduces
the incidence of rape.
Now, let’s look at conflict perspective. Conflict theorist would examine how
prostitution supports the status quo and propitiates inequity between powerful
groups and subordinate groups. People’s social class, race, ethnicity, gender,
and age are all linked to the unequal distribution of money. That is why the
majority of prostitutes are poor, female, and young. In Vietnam, Thailand and
Philipine , there is a mass amount of low class citizens and they are ultimately
forced to be prostitutes. Since they don’t have any education, they do not know
what to do. The only trade that they can do without education is prostitution.
Even that, when these women make their money, they are still oppressed by
their pimps who take a large portion of their earnings. So the economic
inequality gap is widened. The social inequality of these countries mandates that
they perform sex for money continuously in order to live.

In conflict perspective,we can use Feminist view as a useful tool to view


prostitution particularly. When Max Weber focus on the conflict between class
and power, Feminist sociologists focus on gender and power. They believe that
the men entering the sexual transaction are just as immoral as the prostitutes
themselves. Feminist also argue that society teaches boys to dominate girls and
are expected to continue this behavior into adulthood. On the other hand society
teaches girls to be submissive to boys, and to remain that way into adulthood.
The basic idea is that prostitution and a male patriarchy support each other. This
is because prostitution supports and encourages the idea that all women can be
bought or are less valuable then men.