Keen, C., France, A., & Kramer, R. (2019). Exposing children to pornography: How competing constructions of childhood shape state regulation of online pornographic material. New Media & Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444819872539
This paper discusses policy debates in the UK and Australia concerning the regulation of pornographic content on the internet as it relates to children. Through a thematic analysis of qualitative interviews with key stakeholders at the negotiation table, we find that rather than positivist notions of the ‘developing’, ‘vulnerable’ and ‘asexual’ child dominating policy discourse, post-modern representations of the ‘savvy’ and ‘agentic’ child have come to dominate policy culture and outcomes. In this scenario, the regulatory role of states in providing media protection is diminished, while neoliberal forms of governance that emphasise the responsibility of individuals, including parents and children, to manage online media risk have come to dominate the emerging policy landscape.
Keen, C. Kramer, R. & France, A. (2020 accepted). The pornographic state: The changing nature of state regulation in addressing illegal and harmful online content. Media, Culture and Society.
This article has been accepted for publication and will be available shortly online.
It explores the failure of democratic nation-states to regulate corporate internet intermediaries who essentially provide access to websites containing illegal and legal pornographic content. Existing literature credits this apparent diminishing regulatory role of states to neoliberalism. Drawing on Wacquant’s theory of ‘neoliberal state-crafting’ (2010) can explain the paucity of state media regulation while also accounting for when states do engage in alternative forms of regulation. Through a thematic analysis of key documents, media, and interviews with ‘elite’ stakeholders in Australia and the UK, this research shows that private actors are generally exempt from state regulation, while individuals are simultaneously subject to punitive mechanisms for problematic and illegal uses of the internet. The larger theoretical point that is being advanced in this paper is that a critical framework in which neoliberal logics are centred might be important for making sense of internet regulation in numerous contexts. And, there is also a broader issue concerning whether the logics of neoliberalism can address any other number of communication and content issues engendered by a global, internet era.