In this article Amsterdam’s Red Light District provides the case study for a critical analysis of the institutional arrangement that has become structured into the life processes of the city for enacting a socialized, organized and normalized social body. Institutions are conceptualized as the hubs of societal organization and the sources of discourses proscribing and perpetuating acceptable, normative social action and interaction. An analysis of the forces that authorize and socialize individual actors and their everyday practices in and surrounding Amsterdam’s Red Light District will elucidate a field of power relations. Vertices of power will reveal the ideological imperatives, through which networks of actors and organizations are positioned to define and delimit the city’s social reality, as it has evolved through its always already transforming institutions. Primarily, the case study explicates the transitions in Amsterdam’s Red Light District as inextricable from the institutional forces that act on social subjects, dictating normative understandings, actions and positions within their social context; more generally, this paper aims to illuminate an oversight in the vast majority of new institutionalisms that assert their theoretical framework as substantive, or the most adequate, for assessing institutions, institutional transformations, and the networks between them, within any social reality.
This article was published originally in Amsterdam Social Science Volume 1 Issue 1 (2008). Click here for the complete article.
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