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Porn Studies hopes to provide a space in which "debate and argument can flourish"Pornhub

Pornography is on our computers, on our television and in our books: it's one of the most controversial cultural debates in today's society.

And now, the first academic journal devoted entirely the topic has been launched.

Porn Studies, published by Routledge, is a quarterly academic journal described as "the first dedicated, international, peer-reviewed journal to critically explore those cultural products and services designated as pornographic".

First announced last summer, the journal has attracted widespread media attention during an age which has seen pornography integrated into mainstream culture.

In the introduction to the first issue, Feona Attwood, the editor-in-chief and a professor of cultural studies at Middlesex University, and Clarissa Smith, a reader in sexual cultures at the University of Sunderland, wrote: "Recent years have seen a resurgence of public discussions (and scares) about a series of pornography-related topics, perhaps most notably the expansions of pornography across the internet, its putative links to rape and sexual violence, and erotic life-styling or the oft-cited 'sexualisation of culture'."

The inaugural issue of the journal is open-access for a limited time only, so anyone can read papers such as Psychology and Pornography: Some Reflections, or Gonzo, trannys and teens - current trends in US adult content production, distribution, and consumption.

The author of the latter paper, Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, exemplifies the exploration of niche issues in pornography. She argues that Gonzo porn, loosely scripted porn in which the actors interact with the cameraman or the audience, is common because it is cheap to produce.

Other papers in the first issue include Deep Tags: Toward a Quantitative Analysis of Online Pornography, and Porn and Sex Education: Porn as Sex Education.

The publication of the journal has caused widespread controversy. Writing for The Atlantic, Alexis C. Madrigal argued that the time has come to talk about pornography as a modern issue as it remains "undertheorised". Madgrigal wrote: "In the public sphere, there are very few serious ideas about what porn is or how it works or what it means to us, besides the obvious."

Others, however, have criticised the journal for placing pornography further into mainstream society and that this desensitises us to the harm of the phenomenon.

Gail Dines, an anti-pornography activist and professor of sociology and women's studies at Wheelock College, previously told The Observer that she was concerned about the editorial direction of the journal.

She wrote: "These editors come from a pro-porn background where they deny the tons and tons of research that has been done into the negative effects of porn."

Dines continued: "They are akin to climate-change deniers. They're taking a bit of junk science and leaping to all sorts of unfounded conclusions."

The editors of Porn Studies, however, say the divided opinion has prompted their publication of the journal, as it provides a "space in which debate and argument can flourish without rehearsing the same old arguments of the porn debates".