Cao, L. and Maguire, E.R. (2013). "A Test of the Temperance Hypothesis: Class, Religiosity, and Tolerance of Prostitution." Social Problems , 60(2): 188-205.


Public attitudes toward prostitution have been a neglected area of study. Temperance theory posits that end-of-the century political culture is characterized by the persistence of moral politics in which personal behavior is moralized and sanctioned. Driving this politics is the economic insecurity of the middle class to reassert status boundaries as markers of respectability in order to clearly separate classes physically and socially. This hypothesis has not been tested empirically and it contradicts hypotheses derived from post materialist theory or revised modernization theory, which propose that there is a trend toward more tolerance of deviance in contemporary society, and that the traditional class-based cleavages have shifted and now focus more on value cleavages. This study tests these competing hypotheses, examining whether there is a trend toward greater intolerance of prostitution and whether the middle class became more intolerant in the 1990s. In addition, we test the effects of social class and religiosity on tolerance of prostitution. Results show that the US public became more tolerant toward prostitution across social classes in the 1990s and that religiosity continues to serve as a powerful counterbalance to social acceptance of prostitution.

Year: 2013
Language: English
Type: Journal article
Topic: Other
Methodologies: Measurement model, Cross-sectional model