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Sociological Research Online 21(4), November 2016: Peer Reviewed Special Section: Exploitation and Its Opposite. Researching the quality of working life in the sex industries

Guest Editors: Stef Adriaenssens, Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and Laura Oso

Articles:

Quality of Work in Prostitution and Sex Work: Introduction to the Special Section
Stef Adriaenssens, Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and Laura Oso

On Our Own Terms: The Working Conditions of Internet-Based Sex Workers in the UK
Teela Sanders, Laura Connelly and Laura Jarvis King

Work Conditions and Job Mobility in the Australian Indoor Sex Industry
Fairleigh Evelyn Gilmour

€Too Much Suffering’: Understanding the Interplay Between Migration, Bounded Exploitation and Trafficking Through Nigerian Sex Workers’ Experiences
Nicola Mai

Precarious or Protected? Evaluating Work Quality in the Legal Sex Industry
Alice Orchiston

Transnational Social Mobility Strategies and Quality of Work Among Latin-American Women Sex Workers in Spain
Laura Oso

Ambivalent Professionalisation and Autonomy in Workers’ Collective Projects: The Cases of Sex Worker Peer Educators in Germany and Sexual Assistants in Switzerland
Giulia Garofalo Geymonat and P.G. Macioti

All articles are freely accessible here.

Abstract
Most studies of media focus on production, representation, or audience. Using rhetorical analysis and ethnographic field methods, my article offers one way to study media production contexts, representations, and audience interactions in relation to one another. For this project, I conducted a narrative rhetorical analysis of the reality docu-series Cathouse that takes place in a legal brothel in Nevada, the Moonlite Bunny Ranch. In addition, I visited the brothel and used ethnographic field methods of participant observation and interviewing to investigate the lived experiences of the women working at the Ranch. My analysis revealed a web of intertextual discourses of prostitution that I could not have accessed had I not used these methods in conjunction with one another. By bringing perspectives from rhetorical inquiry, cultural and media studies, and ethnography into conversation with one another, I provide a framework for analyzing production, representation, and audience for the Cathouse series, while attending to both the content of the women’s stories and how these participants rhetorically constructed and performed their identities. Finally, my analysis offers insights into ethnographic and textual “crises of representation” in relation to the concept of “rhetorical authenticity” in media representations, the relationships between audience members, production, and representation in reality television, and material impacts for the women who work at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch that I could not have accessed without using these methods together.
Cooper, Emily. “‘It’s Better than Daytime Television’: Questioning the Socio-Spatial Impacts of Massage Parlours on Residential Communities.” Sexualities 19, no. 5–6 (September 1, 2016): 547–66. doi:10.1177/1363460715616949.
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Abstract
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It has been shown that street sex work is problematic for some communities, but there is less evidence of the effects of brothels. Emerging research also suggests that impact discourses outlined by residential communities and in regulatory policies should be critiqued, because they are often based on minority community voices, and limited tangible evidence is used to mask wider moral viewpoints about the place of sex work. Using a study of residents living in close proximity to brothels in Blackpool, this article argues that impact is socially and spatially fluid. Impact needs to be evaluated in a more nuanced manner, which is considerate of the heterogeneity of (even one type of) sex work, and the community in question. Brothels in Blackpool had a variety of roles in the everyday socio-spatial fabric; thus also questioning the common assumption that sex work only impacts negatively on residential communities.
Büschi, Eva, ‘Sex Work and Violence: Focusing on Managers in the Indoor Sex Industry’, Sexualities, 17 (2014), 724–41 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1363460714531271&gt;

Abstract 

Sex work is defined from a liberal-feminist view as the negotiating and provision of sexual services by adults in return for payment. In Switzerland, sex work is basically legal and tolerated. The present study does not problematize the nature of sex work. It is considered here as a form of gainful employment rather than deviant behaviour, sexual risk behaviour or violence per se. In a qualitative study using problem focused guided interviews, 13 managers of brothels and contact bars in a Swiss city were questioned about their organizing of work, about working conditions, violence and its prevention. The content analysis of the data (Mayring, 2007) generated a manager typology (based on Kelle and Kluge, 1999). The results project four manager types: (I) collegial all-rounders who run small establishments; (II) co-operative managers of medium-size commercial premises; (III) authoritarian managers of medium-size and large brothels or contact bars and (IV) self-sacrificing managers of medium-size brothels. In respect to violence, these four types are characterized by association with differential degrees of potential risk for sex workers. While types I and IV can be classified as more risky in relation to violence and safety due to their specific characteristics, types II and III are clearly less dangerous for the sex workers. All the managers have introduced protective measures to prevent violence, yet they do not have a specific (explicitly formulated) strategy. In conclusion, the study shows that structural basic conditions and specific organizational working conditions impact on the risk of violence.

Cunningham, Scott; Shah, Manisha: Decriminalizing Indoor Prostitution: Implications for Sexual Violence and Public Health, 20281, National Bureau of Economic Research Juli 2014, , Stand: 19.07.2014.
Most governments in the world including the United States prohibit prostitution. Given these types of laws rarely change and are fairly uniform across regions, our knowledge about the impact of decriminalizing sex work is largely conjectural. We exploit the fact that a Rhode Island District Court judge unexpectedly decriminalized indoor prostitution in 2003 to provide the first causal estimates of the impact of decriminalization on the composition of the sex market, rape offenses, and sexually transmitted infection outcomes. Not surprisingly, we find that decriminalization increased the size of the indoor market. However, we also find that decriminalization caused both forcible rape offenses and gonorrhea incidence to decline for the overall population. Our synthetic control model finds 824 fewer reported rape offenses (31 percent decrease) and 1,035 fewer cases of female gonorrhea (39 percent decrease) from 2004 to 2009.
Full article available here. 

Abstract

Drawing on research in the UK and the Netherlands, this article considers the respective legislative backgrounds, recent policy changes and their implication for sex workers in off-street environments. It considers the impact of different regulatory models on the employment rights, safety and welfare of sex workers and explores how working conditions in different indoor settings might be improved through legal and policy changes. We argue that although decriminalization of sex work is a precondition to secure the labour and human rights of sex workers, the involvement of sex workers in policy development and facilitation of different modes of working are necessary to improve their working conditions and autonomy.

Cruz, Katie (2013): Unmanageable Work, (Un)liveable Lives: The UK Sex Industry, Labour Rights and the Wegfahre State, in: Social Legal Studies May 23, 2013. 

This article draws from interview material with sex worker rights activists in London, and sex work scholarship, to explore the demand for labour rights for sex workers and erotic dancers. I argue that there are two positions visible in activism and scholarship, which I term ‘liberal’ and ‘materialist’. Whilst the former posits that the problem with sex work is insufficient mainstreaming of commercial sex within the labour market, the latter stresses the need for protections and freedoms from the labour market and repressive criminal and immigration laws. I suggest that these two perspectives need to be thought together. To this end, for the first time in the UK context I ask what labour rights can do for erotic dancers and indoor-based sex workers. I argue that, whilst labour law may offer some level of protection, both forms of commercial sexual service are ultimately unmanageable and that the strategy of securing individual labour rights suffers from several limitations. In the final part, I map the materialist frames onto broader feminist citizenship debates. I ask whether these models can deliver the protections sought and tentatively propose that a feminist-oriented demand for a basic income may be of use to the sex worker rights movement today.