Trafficking in Human Beings: Made and Cut to Measure? Anti-trafficking docufictions and the production of anti-trafficking truths

Kiril Sharapov (Lead / Corresponding author), Jonathan Mendel

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This article responds to Gozdziak’s (2015: 30) call to explore how the knowledge that informs public debates about human trafficking is generated. Media imagery and narratives play a significant role in constructing both knowledge and ignorance. This article reflects on the construction of such knowledge by analysing how anti-trafficking docufiction videos from the Unchosen competition dramatize trafficking. We draw on Goffman’s (1974) work on frames to analyse how these videos present a simplified interpretation of reality, where certain constructed aspects of trafficking and exploitation are represented by video-makers as illustrating the general. In doing so, we highlight how anti-trafficking docufictions help efface everyday exploitation. The article contributes both to the empirical research on the construction of knowledge about trafficking, and to critical conceptual work on (anti)trafficking, exploitation and ignorance. It is part of a broader project to challenge exceptionalizing and individualizing representations of human trafficking – aiming to engage better with everyday exploitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)540-560
Number of pages21
JournalCultural Sociology
Issue number4
Early online date12 Sep 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018



  • Agnotology
  • docufictions
  • exploitation
  • frames
  • ignorance
  • media
  • public opinion
  • trafficking in human beings

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