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P Duff, J Sou, J Chapman, S Dobrer, M Braschel, S Goldenberg, K Shannon; Poor working conditions and work stress among Canadian sex workers , Occupational Medicine, Volume 67, Issue 7, 1 October 2017, Pages 515–521, https://doi.org/10.1093/occmed/kqx092
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Abstract
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Background

While sex work is often considered the world’s oldest profession, there remains a dearth of research on work stress among sex workers (SWs) in occupational health epidemiological literature. A better understanding of the drivers of work stress among SWs is needed to inform sex work policy, workplace models and standards.Aims

To examine the factors that influence work stress among SWs in Metro Vancouver.Methods

Analyses drew from a longitudinal cohort of SWs, known as An Evaluation of Sex Workers’ Health Access (AESHA) (2010–14). A modified standardized ‘work stress’ scale, multivariable linear regression with generalized estimating equations was used to longitudinally examine the factors associated with work stress.Results

In multivariable analysis, poor working conditions were associated with increased work stress and included workplace physical/sexual violence (β = 0.18; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.06, 0.29), displacement due to police (β = 0.26; 95% CI 0.14, 0.38), working in public spaces (β = 0.73; 95% CI 0.61, 0.84). Older (β = −0.02; 95% CI −0.03, −0.01) and Indigenous SWs experienced lower work stress (β = −0.25; 95% CI −0.43, −0.08), whereas non-injection (β = 0.32; 95% CI 0.14, 0.49) and injection drug users (β = 0.17; 95% CI 0.03, 0.31) had higher work stress.Conclusions

Vancouver-based SWs’ work stress was largely shaped by poor work conditions, such as violence, policing, lack of safe workspaces. There is a need to move away from criminalized approaches which shape unsafe work conditions and increase work stress for SWs. Policies that promote SWs’ access to the same occupational health, safety and human rights standards as workers in other labour sectors are also needed.

Megan Lowthers, “On Institutionalized Sexual Economies: Employment Sex, Transactional Sex, and Sex Work in Kenya’s Cut Flower Industry,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 43, no. 2 (Winter 2018): 449-472.

Abstract

Today Kenya boasts the longest standing, largest, and most lucrative cut flower industry across Africa, concentrated around Lake Naivasha. Naivasha’s flower farms depend on a female migrant labor market that operates within a system of intense gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual-economic exchange. Female labor migrants sometimes participate in types of sexual commerce that are so entrenched within the cut flower industry that they can be termed an “institutionalized sexual economy.” Drawing on feminist ethnography and migration stories, this article documents the gendered and unequal labor continuum of sexual commerce that exists at Naivasha’s flower farms. This includes how female labor migrants exchange sex for employment at the flower farms—what I call “employment sex”—and how they engage in transactional sex with flower farm managers, supplement their incomes with part-time sex work, and move in and out of full-time, street-level sex work as their temporary flower farm contracts turn over. Examining this labor continuum of sexual commerce provides insight into the broader context of local employment options and conditions, work practices and policies, migration patterns, gender relations and unpaid labor, and the sex workers’ rights movement. This article is the first to use critical feminist theories to examine sexual commerce at flower farms and to place the sex-work-as-work debate squarely in the context of the cut flower industry. The absence of this subject from scholarship to date has contributed to a lack of sex worker perspectives, experiences, and sociocultural understandings of institutionalized sexual economies in Africa.

Van Meir, Jessica. 2017. “Sex Work and the Politics of Space: Case Studies of Sex Workers in Argentina and Ecuador.” Soc. Sci. 6, no. 2: 42.
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Abstract
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While many studies examine how different legal approaches to prostitution affect sex workers’ living and working conditions, few studies analyze how sex workers’ physical workspaces and the policies regulating these spaces influence sex work conditions. Based on interviews with 109 current or former sex workers, 13 civil society representatives, 12 government officials, and 5 other actors in Ecuador and Argentina, this study describes sex workers’ uses of urban space in the two countries and compares how they experience and respond to government regulation of locations of prostitution. Argentina and Ecuador took different approaches to regulating sex work space, which appear to reflect different political ideologies towards prostitution. Sex workers expressed different individual preferences for spaces, and government limitation of these spaces represented one of their major concerns. The results illuminate how sex workers’ workspaces influence their working conditions and suggest that governments should consider sex worker preferences in establishing policies that affect their workspaces.

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Jessica Van Meir’s Blog with reflections and notes on her research.

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.

Choo, Hae Yeon. “In the Shadow of Working Men: Gendered Labor and Migrant Rights in South Korea.” Qualitative Sociology, July 16, 2016, 1–21. doi:10.1007/s11133-016-9332-9.
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Abstract
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Based on ethnographic research in South Korea, this article investigates the gendered production of migrant rights under the global regime of temporary migration by examining two groups of Filipina women: factory workers and hostesses at American military camptown clubs. Emphasizing gendered labor processes and symbolic politics, this article offers an analytical framework to interrogate the mechanisms through which a discrepancy of rights is generated at the intersection of workplace organization and civil society mobilization. I identify two distinct labor regimes for migrant women that were shaped in the shadow of working men. Migrant women in the factories labored in the company of working men on the shop floor, which enabled them to form a co-ethnic migrant community and utilize the male-centered bonding between workers and employers. In contrast, migrant hostesses were isolated and experienced gendered stigma under the paternalistic rule of employers. Divergent forms of civil society mobilization in South Korea sustained these regimes: Migrant factory workers received recognition as workers without attention to gender-specific concerns while hostesses were construed as women victims in need of protection. Thus, Filipina factory workers were able to exercise greater labor rights by sharing the dignity of workers as a basis for their rights claims from which hostesses were excluded.
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Abstract
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This study examines whether working with a broker increases or reduces the payment received for the last client among female sex workers. Building on research on the informal economy and sex work, we formulate a positive embeddedness hypothesis, expecting a positive association, and an exploitation hypothesis, expecting a negative association. We analyze a large survey combined with intensive interview data on female sex workers in Andhra Pradesh, India. These data uniquely distinguish between the amount the sex worker actually received and the amount the client paid. The analyses show that brokers are associated with significantly lower last payment received. Although brokers are associated with a greater number of clients in the past week, this does not result in significantly higher total earnings in the past week. Further analyses suggest that much of the negative relationship with earnings is due to the fact that brokers lead to a lack of control over the amount clients are charged. At the same time, the results fail to show that brokers actually provide services of value. Ultimately, the results support the exploitation hypothesis. We conclude by encouraging the refinement of theories of embeddedness and exploitation and calling for greater research on workers in the informal economy of developing countries.