Skip to main content
×
×
Home

The evolution of human trafficking messaging in the United States and its effect on public opinion

  • Tabitha Bonilla (a1) and Cecilia Hyunjung Mo (a2)
Abstract

Despite a near unanimous agreement that human trafficking is a morally reprehensible practice, there is confusion around what qualifies as human trafficking in the United States. Adopting a mixed-method strategy, we examine how human trafficking is defined by the public; how contemporary (mis)understanding of human trafficking developed; and the public opinion consequence of this (mis)understanding. The definition of human trafficking has evolved over time to become nearly synonymous with slavery; however, we demonstrate that media and anti-trafficking organisations have been focussing their attention on the sexual exploitation of foreign women. We show that general public opinion reflects this skewed attention; the average citizen equates human trafficking with the smuggling of women for sexual slavery. Using a survey experiment, we find that shining light on other facets of human trafficking – the fact that human trafficking is a security problem and a domestic issue – can increase public response to the issue.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The evolution of human trafficking messaging in the United States and its effect on public opinion
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The evolution of human trafficking messaging in the United States and its effect on public opinion
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The evolution of human trafficking messaging in the United States and its effect on public opinion
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
References
Hide All
Baum, M. A. and Potter, P. B. K. (2008) The Relationships Between Mass Media, Public Opinion, and Foreign Policy: Toward a Theoretical Synthesis. Annual Review of Political Science 11: 3965.
Becker, J. (2012) Campaigning for Justice: Human Rights Advocacy in Practice. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Benford, R. and Snow, D. (2000) Framing Processes and Social Movements: An Overview and Assessment. Annual Review of Sociology 26: 611639.
Berlin, I. (1976) The Structure of the Free Negro Caste in the Antebellum United States. Journal of Social History 9(3): 297318.
Bishop, C. (2003) The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000: Three Years Later. Data and Perspectives 41: 219231.
Blei, D. M., Ng, A. Y. and Jordan, M. I. (2003) Latent Dirichlet Allocation. Journal of Machine Learning Research 3: 9931022.
Brysk, A. (1993) From Above and Below Social Movements, the International System, and Human Rights in Argentina. Comparative Political Studies 26(3): 259285.
Burstein, P. (1991) Policy Domains: Organization, Culture, and Policy Outcomes. Annual Review of Sociology 17: 327350.
Carr, B., Milgram, A., Kim, K. and Warnath, S. (2014) Human Trafficking Law and Policy. New Providence, NJ: LexisNexis Law School Publishing.
Chandler, D. G. (2001) The Road to Military Humanitarianism: How the Human Rights NGOs Shaped a New Humanitarian Agenda. Human Rights Quarterly 23(3): 678700.
Chong, D. and Druckman, J. N. (2007) A Theory of Framing and Opinion Formation in Competitive Elite Environments. Journal of Communication 57(1): 99118.
Clawson, H., Dutch, N., Solomon, A. and Grace, L. G. (2009) Human Trafficking Into and Within the United States: A Review of the Literature. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/human-trafficking-and-within-united-states-review-literature (accessed 22 January 2018).
Danailova-Trainor, G. and Laczko, F. (2010) Trafficking in Persons and Development: Towards Greater Policy Coherence. International Migration 48: 3883.
Desyllas, M. C. (2007) A Critique of the Global Trafficking Discourse and U.S. Policy. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 34(4): 5779.
Doezema, J. (1998) Forced to Choose: Beyond the Voluntary v. Forced Prostitution Dichotomy. In Kempadoo K. and Doezema J. (eds.), Global Sex Workers: Rights, Resistance, and Redefinition. New York, NY: Routledge, 3450.
Doezema, J. (1999) Loose Women or Lost Women? The Re-Emergence of the Myth of White Slavery in Contemporary Discourses of Trafficking in Women. Gender Issues 18(1): 2350.
Doezema, J. (2002) Who Gets to Choose? Coercion, Consent, and the UN Trafficking Protocol. Gender & Development 10(1): 2027.
DOJ, HHS, DOS, DOL, DHS, and USAID (2006) Assessment of U.S. Government Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons in Fiscal Year 2005. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice.
Druckman, J. N. (2001) On the Limits of Framing Effects: Who Can Frame? The Journal of Politics 63(4): 10411066.
Druckman, J. N. (2004) Political Preference Formation: Competition, Deliberation, and the (Ir)relevance of Framing Effects. American Political Science Review 98(4): 671686.
Druckman, J. N. and Kam, C. D. (2011) Students as Experimental Participants: A Defense of the “Narrow Data Base”. In Druckman, J. N., Green D. P., Kuklinski J. H. and Lupia A. (eds.), Handbook of Experimental Political Science. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 4157.
Entman, R. M. (1993) Framing: Toward Clarification of a Fractured Paradigm. Journal of Communication 43: 5158.
Farrell, A. and Fahy, S. (2009) The Problem of Human Trafficking in the U.S.: Public Frames and Policy Responses. Journal of Criminal Justice 37(6): 617626.
Feingold, D. A. (2005) Human Trafficking. Foreign Policy 150: 2630, 32.
Free the Slaves (2004) Hidden Slaves: Forced Labor in the United States. Washington, DC and Berkeley, CA: Free the Slaves and Human Rights Center University of California.
Gould, A. J. (2010) From Pseudoscience to Protoscience: Estimating Human Trafficking and Modern Forms of Slavery. Presented at the Second Annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Human Trafficking, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Gozdziak, E. M. and Collett, E. A. (2005) Research on Human Trafficking in North America: A Review of Literature. International Migration 43(1–2): 99128.
Grittner, F. K. (1990) White Slavery: Myth, Ideology and American Law. New York, NY: Garland.
Gulati, G. J. (2011) News Frames and Story Triggers in the Media’s Coverage of Human Trafficking. Human Rights Review 12(3): 363379.
Guy, D. J. (1992) “White Slavery,” Citizenship and Nationality in Argentina. In Parker A. (ed.), Nationalisms and Sexualities. New York, NY: Routledge, 7285.
Hertel, S. (2006) Unexpected Power: Conflict and Change Among Transnational Activists. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Hilgartner, S. and Bosk, C. L. (1988) The Rise and Fall of Social Problems: A Public Arenas Model. American Journal of Sociology 94: 5378.
International Labour Organization (2012) ILO Global Estimates of Forced Labor. Geneva, Switzerland: ILO.
Jahic, G. and Finckenauer, J. (2005) Representations and Misrepresentations of Human Representations and Misrepresentations of Human Trafficking. Trends in Organized Crime 8(3): 2440.
Kandathil, R. (2005) Global Sex Trafficking and the Trafficking Victims Protection act of 2000: Legislative Responses to the Problem of Modern Slavery. Michigan Journal of Gender & Law 12: 87118.
Kempadoo, K. and Doezema, J. (1998) Global Sex Workers: Rights, Resistance, and Redefinition. New York, NY: Routledge.
Kingdon, J. W. (1984) Agendas, Alternative and Public Policy. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
Klandermans, B. (1988) The Formation and Mobilization of Consensus. In Klandermans B., Kriesi H. and Tarrow S. (eds.), International Social Movement Research. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 173196.
Koettl, J. (2009) Human Trafficking, Modern Day Slavery, and Economic Exploitation. SP Discussion Paper, No. 0911. Washington, DC: The World Bank.
Laczko, F. (2007) Enhancing Data Collection and Reasearch on Trafficking in Persons. In Savona E. U. and Stefanizzi S. (eds.), Measuring Human Trafficking: Complexities and Pitfalls. New York, NY: Springer, 3744.
McCallum, A. (2002) MALLET: A Machine Learning for Language Toolkit, http://mallet.cs.umass.edu (accessed 1 January 2014).
McCombs, M. (2004) Setting the Agenda: The Mass Media and Public Opinion. Cambridge: Polity Press.
McDonald, F. and McWhiney, G. (1980) The South from Self-sufficiency to Peonage: An Interpretation. The American Historical Review 85(5): 10951118.
McEntire, K. J., Leiby, M. and Krain, M. (2015) How to Ask People for Change: Examining Peoples’ Willingness to Donate to Human Rights Campaigns. In Pruce J. R. (ed.), Social Practice of Human Rights. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 43–62.
Morcom, C. and Schloenhardt, A. (2011) All About Sex?! The Evolution of Trafficking in Persons in International Law. The University of Queensland Human Trafficking Working Group, Brisbane, Australia.
National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) (2016) Hotline Statistics, https://humantraffickinghotline.org/states (accessed 1 April 2016).
Polaris (2016) 2015 Hotline Statistics. Polaris Project.
Potter, G. W. and Kappeler, V. E. (1998) Construction Crime: Perspectives on Making News and Social Problems. Chicago, IL: Waveland Press.
Ransom, R. L. and Sutch, R. (1972) Debt Peonage in the Cotton South After the Civil War. The Journal of Economic History 32(3): 641669.
Raymond, J. G. and Hughes, D. M. (2001) Sex Trafficking of Women in the United States: International and Domestic Trends. Coalition Against Trafficking of Women.
Rieger, A. (2006) Missing the Mark: Why the Trafficking Victims Protection Act Fails to Protect Sex Trafficking Victims in the United States. Harvard Journal of Law & Gender 30: 231256.
Saunders, P. and Soderlund, G. (2003) Traveling Threats: Sexuality, Gender and the Ebb and Flow of Trafficking as Discourse. Canadian Woman Studies 22: 3546.
Scarpa, S. (2008) Trafficking in Human Beings: Modern Slavery. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Simmons, B. A. and Lloyd, P. (2015) Framing and Transnational Legal Organization: The Case of Human Trafficking. In Halliday T. C. and Shaffer G. (eds.), Transnational Legal Organization. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 400438.
Soderlund, G. (2005) Running from the Rescuers: New U.S. Crusades Against Sex Trafficking and the Rhetoric of Abolition. NWSA Journal 17: 264287.
Surrette, R. (1992) Media: Crime and Criminal Justice. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
71st US Congress (1930) Tariff Act of 1930. H.R. 2667 (PL 71-361), 17 June.
106th US Congress (2000) Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. H.R.3244 (PL 106-386), 28 October, https://www.congress.gov/bill/106th-congress/house-bill/3244 (accessed 2 December 2015).
US Department of Homeland Security (2015) Human Trafficking Laws and Regulations. 22 September, http://www.dhs.gov/human-trafficking-laws-regulations (accessed 2 December 2015).
US Department of State (2014) 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report. Washington, DC: US Department of State.
US Department of State (2015) U.S. Laws on Trafficking in Persons, http://go.usa.gov/3yUBT (accessed 6 December 2015).
Walk Free Foundation (2014) The Global Slavery Index 2014. Claremont, WA: Hope for Children Organization Australia Ltd.
Wong, W. H. (2012) Internal Affairs: How the Structure of NGOs Transforms Human Rights. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
World Slavery Index (2016) Country Study: United States, http://www.globalslaveryindex.org/ country/united-states (accessed 1 April 2016).
Zaller, J. (1992) The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Zhang, S. X. (2012) Looking for a Hidden Population: Trafficking of Migrant Laborers in San Diego County. San Diego, CA: San Diego State University.
Zimmerman, Y. C. (2005) Situating the Ninety-Nine: A Critique of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Journal of Religion and Abuse 7: 3756.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Public Policy
  • ISSN: 0143-814X
  • EISSN: 1469-7815
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-public-policy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

Bonilla and Mo supplementary material
Online Appendix

 PDF (135 KB)
135 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 70
Total number of PDF views: 120 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 690 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 25th April 2018 - 21st September 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.