Social construction and the diffusion of anti-trafficking laws in the U.S.

Academic Article


  • Human trafficking is a compelling and persistent problem that has attracted a great amount of attention among political leaders, government institutions, NGOs, and nonprofit organizations. While there is consensus that trafficking necessitates a multipronged policy response commonly known as the “3Ps” (prosecution, protection, and prevention), anti-trafficking policies diffused across U.S. states in a piecemeal fashion. In this paper, we explore the fragmented diffusion of the different types of anti-trafficking laws. Drawing from social constructivist approaches, we posit that the differential diffusion rates depend on the social construction of the target population and policy intention of the law. Using event history analysis, we examine the diffusion of 14 types of human trafficking laws throughout the U.S. during 2003–2013. We find strong support for our hypotheses and show substantial differences in the rates at which prosecution, protection, and prevention-related laws diffuse.
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    Author List

  • Blanton RG; Jones PA