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Title:Democracy, pornography, and state power: The case of legislating obscenity in post-communist Russia
Author(s):Goldschmidt, Paul William
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Fields, A. Belden
Department / Program:Political Science
Discipline:Political Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Women's Studies
Political Science, General
Abstract:This dissertation examines pornography's arrival in Russia (and the government's attempt to deal with it) as an issue of democratization. Russia, now faced with the challenge of becoming a democracy and shaking off an authoritarian past, must face questions of administrative response in many varied and different ways. These challenges are far from new and have been faced by all other democratic states. Pornography challenges notions of democracy because it presents a clear conflict of self-determination and state interest. It is colored by issues of morality and religion, and it is addressed by critics of democracy from the right and the left.
The work begins by identifying four Western theoretical approaches to the issue of obscenity and uncovering their strengths and weaknesses, particularly in terms of their relationship to democracy. The traditional debate over pornographic materials has been defined by two opposing camps--religious conservatives and libertarians--who themselves reflect the traditional differences of classical and modern philosophy respectively. Neither side lends itself well to contemporary democratization debates. Modern democratic societies rely upon a more recent set of debates formulated in the nineteenth century by communists and anarchists and reflected in the debate over legislating pornography by two competing camps of feminists. These four positions form basic paradigms that can be used not only to understand debates over pornography, but also all types of conflicts in democracy.
The dissertation then discusses the social and historical context of Russia itself, examining the sexual culture, pornographic tradition, and legacy of state control in Russia. Patterns of Russian censorship are analyzed and found to be lacking both ideological clarity and effectiveness. The reasons for legislative failure are deconstructed and identified with failures of anti-pornography policy common in the West. Alternative approaches and legislative reforms are also discussed. In conclusion, observations are made about the viability of legislative reform and the general process of democratization in Russia.
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Goldschmidt, Paul William
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9543593
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9543593

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