Child Pornography: An Internet Crime

By Max Taylor; Ethel Quayle | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

The process of collecting

The word 'collecting' is often used to refer to the process through which an individual with a sexual interest in children acquires child pornography material. That same individual is often referred to as a 'collector' of child pornography. We see reference to seized collections in newspapers after an individual has been arrested for possession of child pornography, and the size or qualities of that collection are often emphasised. Sometimes the term collection is used to refer to that which an individual has, which may be little more than an aggregation of items. On other occasions, however, we use the term collection in a more sophisticated way to refer to something more than a simple aggregation, focusing on organised and structured quantities.

This chapter will explore what we mean by collecting generally, and with particular reference to child pornography. As in the case of our discussion of virtual community, collecting refers to a broad concept that goes beyond the confines of the child pornography world. However, an understanding of that broad context will help us to bring into better focus the process of collecting related to child pornography. As part of that exploration, we will identify psychological and social qualities of collecting that are of particular relevance to our understanding of the dynamics of collecting child pornography, both in itself and with reference to the Internet.


WHAT IS COLLECTING

At a very general level, we can define collecting as the selecting, gathering and keeping of objects of subjective value (Muensterberger 1994). This definition emphasises the subjective aspects of collecting, primarily because the intensity of the feelings often attached to what is collected is not always commensurate with its monetary or commercial value. The emotional intensity that is part of collecting behaviour is also seen in the definition given by Belk (1995a), 'the process of actively, selectively, and passionately acquiring and possessing things removed from ordinary use and perceived as part of a set of non-identical objects and experiences'. This is a useful starting-point for our discussion of the role of collecting in child pornography, for it emphasises a number of features of collecting:

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