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Tag Archives: Labor

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.

Neuwelt-Kearns, Caitlin, Tom Baker, and Octavia Calder-Dawe. 2020. ‘Informal Governance and the Spatial Management of Street-Based Sex Work in Aotearoa New Zealand’. Political Geography 79 (May): 102154. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2020.102154.
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While informality has long been studied as a feature of governance in the global South, a growing range of accounts examine informal governing arrangements as endemic to cities and nations of the global North. This paper contributes to such scholarship by drawing attention to informal practices and mechanisms involved in the spatial management of sex work in the global North. Existing literature on the spatial management of sex work has long emphasised how informality shapes local sex work practices and mediates formal state-based regulation. We synthesise these studies to suggest three modes of informal governance: as component, catalyst and alternative to formal regulation. Through a case study of street-based sex work management in Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand, we discuss how informal governance emerged as a de facto component of formal regulation at the national scale and an alternative to formal regulation at the local scale. Specifically, we detail how an ambiguous regulatory environment, combined with highly localised understandings of spatial appropriateness, led to and influenced the informal management of sex work through a community-level partnership between local authorities, residents and sex worker advocates. In doing so, the paper advocates for more attention to the multi-modal and multi-scalar aspects of informal governance.

Simpson, Jessica, and Sarah Smith. 2019. ‘“I’m Not a Bloody Slave, I Get Paid and If I Don’t Get Paid Then Nothing Happens”: Sarah’s Experience of Being a Student Sex Worker’. Work, Employment and Society 33 (4): 709–18. https://doi.org/10.1177/0950017018809888.
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Sex work remains a contentious area of debate. Whether or not sex work is considered to be a form of labour is in itself contested. As discussion is often about rather than with sex workers, this article brings Sarah’s experiences of being both a student and a sex worker, in two different areas of the UK, to centre stage. This candid account highlights the precarious and competitive nature of being self-employed within the current neoliberal climate, as well as the similarities sex work shares with other ‘mainstream’ forms of labour particularly within the ‘gig economy’. Existing research has focused on how/why students enter the sex industry leaving a gap in the literature regarding what happens after university in this context. It appears from Sarah’s account that leaving sex work behind may not be as straightforward as she had originally anticipated, for reasons other than just making money.

Benoit, Cecilia, Michaela Smith, Mikael Jansson, Priscilla Healey, und Doug Magnuson. „“The Prostitution Problem”: Claims, Evidence, and Policy Outcomes“. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 29. November 2018. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-018-1276-6.
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Prostitution, payment for the exchange of sexual services, is deemed a major social problem in most countries around the world today, with little to no consensus on how to address it. In this Target Article, we unpack what we discern as the two primary positions that undergird academic thinking about the relationship between inequality and prostitution: (1) prostitution is principally an institution of hierarchal gender relations that legitimizes the sexual exploitation of women by men, and (2) prostitution is a form of exploited labor where multiple forms of social inequality (including class, gender, and race) intersect in neoliberal capitalist societies. Our main aims are to: (a) examine the key claims and empirical evidence available to support or refute each perspective; (b) outline the policy responses associated with each perspective; and (c) evaluate which responses have been the most effective in reducing social exclusion of sex workers in societal institutions and everyday practices. While the overall trend globally has been to accept the first perspective on the “prostitution problem” and enact repressive policies that aim to protect prostituted women, punish male buyers, and marginalize the sex sector, we argue that the strongest empirical evidence is for adoption of the second perspective that aims to develop integrative policies that reduce the intersecting social inequalities sex workers face in their struggle to make a living and be included as equals. We conclude with a call for more robust empirical studies that use strategic comparisons of the sex sector within and across regions and between sex work and other precarious occupations.
Comments to this article have been published in the same journal:

Foley, Ellen E. „“The Prostitution Problem”: Insights from Senegal“. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 14. Dezember 2018. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-018-1368-3.

Vanwesenbeeck, Ine. „The Making of “The Trafficking Problem”“. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 11. Dezember 2018. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-018-1367-4.
This article examines efforts to order Times Square during the first five decades of its existence as a high profile commercial centre. Between 1892 and 1954, New York City powerholders launched a number of clean up campaigns that sought to minimize the working class attributes of the district and to transform it into a mainstream consumption space. These campaigns targeted commercial sex, gay nightclubs, burlesque theatres, street vendors, ‘disorderly’ people, and honky tonks. The strategies used to order Times Square included exclusionary zoning, moral campaigns and restrictive licensing, as well as the enforcement of curfews, building codes, anti-loitering legislation, and indecency statutes. Despite these efforts, the working class character of Times Square persisted, even though the operation of many working class establishments was disrupted and the freedom of ordinary people to frequent the district was compromised.

Aminda M. Smith, ‘The Dilemma of Thought Reform: Beijing Reformatories and the Origins of Reeducation through Labor, 1949–1957’, Modern China 39(2) (2013): 203–234. 
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This article explores the efforts of the early People’s Republic of China (PRC) to intern and reform beggars, prostitutes, and other socially marginalized individuals as important precursors to the post-1957 system of Reeducation through Labor. It links a case study of local practice in Beijing to central government discussions about policy formulation to trace a series of co-constituted changes in the practical methods associated with thought reform as well as in the way PRC reeducators perceived the nature of their targets. It argues that Reeducation through Labor, as moniker and practice, was forged through the many contradictions between real idealism and practical reality that were discussed, debated, but never entirely resolved by the earliest PRC reeducators.

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Can there be such a thing as feminist pornography? Many still say no. Echoing decades of anti-pornography feminist literature, Gail Dines told the Daily Beast in 2012 that “anyone willing to feed off women’s bodies and use them as raw materials to make a profit has no right to call themselves feminists.” But many feminists, including those who make porn, disagree. Despite decades of efforts to suppress it, porn is reaching larger audiences than ever. Making porn more politically progressive for those who consume it and making sets safer for performers are critical issues for feminist intervention—and feminist pornographers have chosen to take on both.

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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.

Mohammad Ismail Bhuiyan (2013): Reasonable Wages for Workers to Eliminate Unrest in Bangladesh’s Ready-made Garments (RMG) Sector, in: The Bangladesh Development Research Working Paper Series (BDRWPS) 13.

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This paper summarizes the main causes of unrest in Bangladesh’s ready-made garments (RMG) sector and how they can be resolved. It provides some background on the degree of unrest in Bangladesh’s RMG sector, focusing on six major unrests during December 2010 and June 2012 and provides some information on conflict resolution processes. The paper is based on interviews with RMG workers, management, and factory owners. It shows that low and discriminating wages are the main underlying factor of unrest in the RMG. Hence, wages should be given top most priority to evade unrest in the RMG factories, followed by the implementation of labor rights.