Defining ‘Pimp’: Working Towards a Definition in Social Research

Holly Davis, “Defining ‘Pimp’: Working Towards a Definition in Social Research” Sociological Research Online, 2013, vol. 18, issue 1, pages 11.


Recently expanding research on prostitution has lead to slightly more focus on an enigmatic yet major player within the underground sex economy: pimps. Whilst starting to shed light on the roles, and behavior of pimps, researchers have overlooked a fundamental element within social research that calls for the explicit definition of subjects. The ambiguous use of the word pimp across research projects impedes comparability, consistency and clarity within the growing body of literature on this topic. In an attempt to draw attention to the oversight of defining ‘pimp’, this paper proposes criteria and processes for a more robust definition and offers a more comprehensive definition of ‘pimp’. The definitional processes suggested are reviewed within this paper through exploration of the history, cultural context, mainstream usage, academic applications and feedback from pimps. This paper integrates data from in-depth interviews with pimps to offer their invaluable insight on the meaning of the word. The core objectives of this paper are to draw attention to the problematic definitional trends in this body of research, and propose new foundations for defining ‘pimp’ within social research.

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