Extreme Concern: Regulating 'Dangerous Pictures' in the United Kingdom

Feona Attwood*, Clarissa Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


This article begins with an exploration of section 5 of the recent Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, otherwise known as the 'Dangerous Pictures Act' which outlaws the possession of 'extreme images', and the Rapid Evidence Assessment belatedly used to justify the legislation. We then examine the claims of the growth, dissemination, and widespread availability of material which 'glories in sexual violence' and its putative 'effects'. This current crisis over the meanings of pornography highlights the rhetorical function of the conceptual discourse of 'pornographication', its links to problematic figurations of the consumer or viewer of explicit materials, and how the identification of 'extreme' pornography has given voice to a range of anxieties about media spectacularization of the body. We end by arguing that opposition to the legislation is not just a matter of protecting personal freedoms or refusing to recognize the existence of harms; instead, we propose that academics will need to question the very parameters on which the impulses to legislate are based.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-188
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Law and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes


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