Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Committee Chair

Peteet, Julie

Author's Keywords

John school; Risk deterrence; Diversion program; Prostitution; Shaming; Sex industry


Prostitutes’ customers--Psychology; Prostitution--Prevention; Shame--Social aspects


Contemporary anti-prostitution campaigns focus on curtailing “the demand” by punishing sexual service consumers. One component of this approach is a diversion program, or “john school,” offered to those who are caught buying prostitution. This ethnography focuses upon the Nashville John School (NJS), which consists of informational presentations that educate johns about the risks associated with prostitution. By employing a restorative justice approach, the NJS exemplifies elements of John Braithwaite’s “reintegrative shaming” theory (1989), which seeks to hold offenders accountable for their wrongdoing while avoiding stigmatization. This ethnographic study utilizes participant observation in the NJS, as well as individual interviews with program presenters and participants, to explore how the NJS employs reintegrative shaming, and how participants respond emotionally. For participants that already hold anti-prostitution sentiments prior to entering the NJS, the program can reduce hostility towards authorities, increase empathy towards potential victims, and justify the enforcement and sanctioning of prostitution laws.