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Ślęzak, Izabela. 2020. “An Ethnographic Analysis of Escort Services in Poland: An Interactionist Approach.” Qualitative Sociology Review 16(4):122-144. Retrieved 11/2020 (URL: http://www.qualitativesociologyreview.org/ENG/archive_eng.php). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18778/1733-8077.16.4.08

Abstract

Abstract: In the Polish literature on the subject, prostitution is analyzed from various theoretical perspectives, but, first of all, from the perspective of social pathology. This approach makes the researchers focus mainly on the social maladjustment of women providing sex services and the reasons for their violation of the normative order. In my ethnographic research conducted in escort agencies in Poland, I was willing to go beyond this narrow outlook. I have adapted an interactionist perspective to analyze the escort agencies as organizations where intense interactions between employees, as well as employees and clients, take place, the sex work process is organized, and the meanings of prostitution are negotiated. I conducted the analysis according to the procedures of the grounded theory methodology. It allowed me to see and describe such processes as: (re)defining the situation of providing sex services from vice to work, sex work as a collective action, performing sex work, secondary socialization for sex work. The adaption of an interactionist perspective opens some new directions for analysis, which could help to understand the phenomenon of women getting involved in and continuing to provide sex services for a long time.

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Yarfitz, Mir. ‘Marriage as Ruse or Migration Route: Jewish Women’s Mobility and Sex Trafficking to Argentina, 1890s-1930s’. Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary e-Journal 17, no. 1 (15 October 2020). https://doi.org/10.33137/wij.v17i1.34964.

Abstract

The victim narrative of the international anti-white slavery movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century highlighted the suffering of prostituted women entrapped by violent men. Due to both antisemitic exaggeration and the reality of Ashkenazi Jewish networks of international sex work management in this period, Jews faced particular scrutiny as traffickers, and organized internationally with non-Jewish reformers against the phenomenon. Reformers often decried the shtile khupe, a Jewish religious marriage ceremony without a civil component, as a key trafficking technique. Drawing on League of Nations archives, court records, and the Yiddish, Spanish, and English press, this essay provides a granular social history of marriage and associated relational strategies for cross-border migration and structuring Jewish sex work on the ground in early-twentieth-century Buenos Aires. Evidence from sex workers and their managers pushes against these victimization narratives, reframing marriage as a method to achieve transnational mobility and improve labor and living conditions. Historical and contemporary feminist responses to trafficking share rhetorical strategies and critiques – in both past and present, transnational sex work can be analyzed in a migratory rather than coercive context, centering individuals making difficult choices from among limited options.

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Rachok, Dafna. ‘Honesty and Economy on a Highway: Entanglements of Gift, Money, and Affection in the Narratives of Ukrainian Sex Workers’. Economic Anthropology, Early View. https://doi.org/10.1002/sea2.12187.

Abstract

Sex work provides a particularly good example to consider the relationships of money, authenticity, and intimacy. Many scholars who research intimacy point to the fact that seeing sex work as an exchange of money (or goods) for sex is a simplistic and reductive approach. Building on the existing research that complicates the idea of sex work as an emotionally detached sex‐for‐money transaction, this article looks at the coexistence of references to gift exchange, informal economy, and service economy in the narratives of street sex workers from the cities of Kropyvnyts’kyi and Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine. Focusing on sex workers’ attempts at discursive legitimization of sex work and on the narratives of their relationships with clients, I argue that the market rhetoric and the gift economy are not incommensurable for my participants. I show that though sex workers’ local “workplace ethic” is permeated with references to competition and productivity, they still don’t see sex work as qualitatively different from other forms of intimacy and don’t treat their clients as mere customers because of multiple emotional and affectionate attachments that exist between them. I conclude by considering the coexistence of various economic narratives in relation to the economic self.

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Goyal, Yugank. ‘Responsibilization through Regulatory Intermediaries in Informal Markets: Examining the Governance of Prostitution in India’. Regulation & Governance, Early View. https://doi.org/10.1111/rego.12298.

Abstract

“Independent” sex work outside red light areas in big cities in developing countries is an understudied phenomenon. Through a survey of independent sex workers in Delhi, India, this paper sheds light on the governance of independent prostitution. It shows that in the sex work industry, which is informal in nature and faces a complex legal architecture, regulatory intermediaries (RIs) drive both regulation and responsibilization strategies. On behalf of the state, the police act as regulatory intermediaries, implementing hierarchical regulation. In red light areas, sex workers’ collectives and solidarity networks operate as RIs on behalf of workers. But in independent sex work, it is pimps who act as intermediaries for workers, driving their responsibilization strategies. Independent sex workers take up the services of pimps even though they charge hefty fees, in large part because pimps can negotiate their protection from the police. I examine several characteristics of the relationships between prostitutes, pimps, clients, and the police, and refine the RIT model of regulatory intermediaries (Abbott et al. 2017) in the context of prostitution in a developing country.

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Leser, Julia. ‘On the Sensory Policing of Vices:  Morality at Work in a German Vice Squad’. Journal of Extreme Anthropology 4, no. 1 (7 March 2020): 22–44. https://doi.org/10.5617/jea.7358.

Abstract

This paper explores the policing of vices and offers a critical inquiry into the affective politics of policing practices seen through police and state ethnography, political anthropology, and the ‘affective turn’ in social and cultural theory. It shows how the moral worlds of policing sex work and performing raids in the red-light ‘milieu’ are constituted in the making of boundaries through visual, olfactory, somatosensory, and auditory sensations, which can be understood as normative performances in the realm of morality. Police officers do not engage in a neutral gaze but transform the sensuous into sensations that enact these normative distinctions between the ‘normal’ and the ‘abnormal’ – the morally questionable red-light ‘milieu.’ These practices can be read in regard to a morality that is conveyed in and through the officers’ sensational performances in an observingly affective and somatic manner. Morality not simply is but is being done—and performing affects and sensations plays a significant role in the making of moral worlds in the realm of policing. Raiding the red-light ‘milieu’ is a performance on disorder and order, on what is normal and what is not, and thus a deeply political practice that reveals how order- and boundary-making operates through basic sensations and feelings, of the sensuous, the aesthetic, and the somatic.

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Ham, Julie. (2020). Rates, roses and donations: Naming your price in sex work. Sociology 2020 (Online First). https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0038038520906773

Abstract

Questions about payment and what it signifies, lie at the heart of feminist debates concerning the morality and legitimacy of sex work. Yet the materialities of payment still remain interestingly under-explored in sex work research. This article addresses this gap by examining immigrant, migrant and racialized sex workers’ pricing practices in Vancouver, Canada and Melbourne, Australia. Determining one’s prices or rates in the sex industry was not a neutral, market-driven calculation for many workers, but was infused with strong ideas about safety, risk, experiential knowledge and the specificities of sex work. Analysing prices and pricing practices through a practice theory lens offers an opportunity to re-think the role of choice in feminist debates about sex work, by highlighting the decisions workers make on a day-to-day basis and capturing the myriad knowledges gained more commonly through experience rather than instruction.

St.Denny, Emily. ‘The Gender Equality Potential of New Anti-Prostitution Policy: A Critical Juncture for Concrete Reform’. French Politics, vol. 18, no. 1, June 2020, pp. 153–74. Springer Link, doi:10.1057/s41253-020-00109-7.
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In April 2016, France adopted a new law enshrining a conception of prostitution as a form of violence against women that needed to be ‘abolished’ and setting up a complex policy framework to achieve this end. This framework comprises a criminal justice ‘pillar’ dedicated to prohibiting and punishing the purchase of sexual services, and a social service ‘pillar’ dedicated to providing financial and social support to individuals involved in selling sex—uniformly assumed to be women and systematically considered to be victims. The new policy was supposed to break from 70 years of symbolic politics characterised by ambiguous regulation, low political attention, and lax policy implementation. Drawing on documentary and interview data, and using the Gender Equality Policy in Practice framework to determine the policy’s current and potential impact on women’s rights and gender equality, this article argues that implementation of France’s new anti-prostitution policy is currently at a critical juncture. Budget reductions, a lack of central state steering, and competing policy priorities are contributing to hollowing out the policy of its capacity to support individuals wishing to exit prostitution while possibly deteriorating the working conditions of those who cannot or do not wish to exit.

Armstrong, L. (2020). Decriminalisation of sex work in the post-truth era? Strategic storytelling in neo-abolitionist accounts of the New Zealand model. Criminology & Criminal Justice, 174889582091889. doi:10.1177/1748895820918898

In the context of on-going debates regarding sex work laws, in most jurisdictions forms of criminalisation continue to dominate. Despite decades of sex workers calling for the decriminalisation of sex work and collectively organising against repressive laws, decriminalisation remains uncommon. New Zealand was the first full country to decriminalise sex work with the passing of the Prostitution Reform Act in 2003, which aimed to improve occupational health and safety. Several empirical studies have documented positive impacts of this framework. However, despite this, neo-abolitionists persistently describe the New Zealand model as a failed approach. This article examines neo-abolitionist knowledge claims regarding the New Zealand model and in doing so unpacks the strategic stories told about this approach, considering the implications for sex work policy making.

In the past twenty years, an international consensus has slowly emerged: sex workers’ rights are human rights. The United Nations (UN) and regional human rights bodies, inter-governmental organizations, and in- fluential nonprofit human rights organizations have institutionalized the concept of sex workers’ rights as human rights in direct response to global sex workers’ rights advocacy.
Hui, Neha, and Uma S. Kambhampati. 2020. ‘Stigma and Labour Market Outcomes: Sex Work and Domestic Work in India’. The Journal of Development Studies 56 (1): 112–28. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220388.2018.1564906.
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In this paper, we examine whether the earnings of sex workers in India are significantly different from those in domestic work, a trade that is also gendered in nature and can be done with similarly low levels of training and education. We analyse this using data collected during fieldwork in the cities of Kolkata and Delhi in India. Our results confirm that there is a significant difference in wages between the two groups of workers. We consider the extent to which the stigma attached to sex work contributes to the higher wages in this occupation relative to domestic work. To do this, we control for endogeneity caused by selection on unobservables. We find that stigma is a significant contributory factor to the wage differential. We also preliminarily consider an alternate explanation – that of violence in the trade. We find that the experience of violence in the trade does not affect the take home earnings of the individuals.