2003 volume 35(7) pages 1261 – 1286

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Zook M A, 2003, "Underground globalization: mapping the space of flows of the Internet adult industry" Environment and Planning A 35(7) 1261 – 1286

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Underground globalization: mapping the space of flows of the Internet adult industry

Matthew A Zook

Received 8 April 2002; in revised form 19 December 2002

Abstract. This paper develops a case study of the Internet adult industry in order to study the ways in which electronic commerce interacts with geography. Digital products, low barriers to entry, cost differentials, and sensitivity to regulation have created a pervasive and complex geography of models, webmasters, and consumers around the globe. With a series of specially developed datasets on the location of content production, websites, and hosting it is shown that the online adult industry offers people and places outside major metropolitan areas opportunities to become active purveyors of this type of electronic commerce. The roles of these actors, however, are not simply determined by a spaceless logic of cyber-interaction but by histories and economies of the physical places they inhabit. In short, the 'space of flows' cannot be understood without reference to the 'space of places' to which it connects. This geography also provides a valuable counterpoint to mainstream electronic commerce and highlights the ability of socially marginal and underground interests to use the Internet to form and connect in global networks.

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