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Mapping the feminist political economy of the online commercial pornography industry: A network approach

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The online commercial pornography consists of approximately 4.2 million websites with over 28,000 primarily male users worldwide spending an average of $3000 each second purchasing pornographic material (Ropelato 2007). The development of a robust political economic understanding of the industry is underdeveloped primarily because of methodological limitations faced when studying such a large and amorphous system. The rise of network-based modalities for the production and distribution of pornographic material opens the door for the application of social network analysis (SNA) to fill this methodological gap. Using data sampled from the 2007 and early 2008 business reports, I conduct an SNA of the online commercial pornography industry and describe how it relies on affiliate websites to ensnare the consumer in a series of mutually reinforcing websites designed to reduce consumer choice to extract maximum profit. As opposed to an industry organized to satisfy consumer-driven desire, my research illustrates that at its core, the industry is structured to acquire profit through an antagonistic relationship between (male) webmasters and (male) consumers.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2011

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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