Tag Archives: Theory and Method

Anglí, Mariona Llobet. ‘Will the End of Prostitution Eradicate Human Trafficking? Four Fallacies in the Abolitionist Approach’. EuCLR European Criminal Law Review 9, no. 1 (2019): 99–119. (Link)


The purpose of this paper is to illustrate the ‘war of data’ on prostitution brought on by scholars, politicians, NGOs and the media. The paper also tackles the misleading wordings and realities in place, which significantly shake the empirical and conceptual foundations of abolitionism, thereby challenging abolitionist claims. As will be shown below, the abolitionist approach is flawed by four fallacies: the statistical, the phenomenological, the deductive and the deterrence fallacy. Therefore, we can conclude that there is no empirical evidence that abolishing prostitution would eradicate, or at least decrease, human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

Ward, Eilís. ‘“Framing Figures” and the Campaign for Sex Purchase Criminalisation in Ireland: A Lakoffian Analysis:’ Irish Journal of Sociology, 1 December 2020.


If the concept of social justice posits equality and fairness between subjects in the social order, then the presence of those subjects within that order must first and foremost be acknowledged. In Ireland’s recent reform of prostitution law contained in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, the presence of the sex worker as a rights-bearing subject or citizen, with access to justice in that capacity, was denied. In this article I focus on the use of data by the neo-abolitionist ‘Turn off the Red Light’ campaign to ‘flatten out’ the complexity of sex workers lives and present the figure of the ‘vulnerable prostituted woman’ and the ‘trafficking victim’: tragic, abject, a necessarily violated person and in need of ‘protection’ from the state. I argue that this data, entering public and political discourse as uncontestable truth, constituted what I call, ‘framing figures’, framing an inevitable outcome and precluding certain subjects from the status of equality and fairness. The data allowed campaigners for the Sex Purchase Ban (SPB), and, in turn the state, to eclipse a social justice approach to sex work, such as proposed by the Sex Workers Alliance of Ireland and other actors.

Wattis, Louise. ‘Revisiting the Yorkshire Ripper Murders: Interrogating Gender Violence, Sex Work, and Justice’. Feminist Criminology 12, no. 1 (1 January 2017): 3–21.


Between 1975 and 1980, 13 women, 7 of whom were sex workers, were murdered in the North of England. Aside from the femicide itself, the case was infamous for police failings, misogyny, and victim blaming. The article begins with a discussion of the serial murder of women as a gendered structural phenomenon within the wider context of violence, gender, and arbitrary justice. In support of this, the article revisits the above case to interrogate police reform in England and Wales in the wake of the murders, arguing that despite procedural reform, gendered cultural practices continue to shape justice outcomes for victims of gender violence. In addition, changes to prostitution policy are assessed to highlight how the historical and ongoing Othering and criminalization of street sex workers perpetuates the victimization of this marginalized group of women.

Editorial note: Peter Sutcliffe aka “the Yorkshire Ripper” died (allegendly from Covid-19) last week.
See the report in the Guardian and a historical statement by the English Collective of Prostitutes (1981) “Prostitutes are innocent ok!

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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: DOI:


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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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.


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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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.


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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Jones, Angela. ‘Where The Trans Men and Enbies At?: Cissexism, Sexual Threat, and the Study of Sex Work’. Sociology Compass 2020.

In this article, I examine the existing research on transgender sex workers and explore how cissexism and sexism overlap and shape this work. Overall, researchers assume that all trans sex workers are women, and all male sex workers are assumed to be cisgender. Transmasculine and other gender non‐conforming sex workers are absent from studies of sex work. Researchers in public health and criminology dominate the literature and this research is limited because it focuses only on trans women and because it focuses primarily on disease and trauma, and almost exclusively on HIV. The literature I examined treats transgender women as a public health “problem” to be solved, rather than addressing their experiences and needs as workers and as people in our society. I argue that in order to have useful applied and policy implications aimed at harm reduction, researchers must use a sociological lens to document what structural conditions push and pull people of various genders into sex markets in the first place. Finally, I advocate for the use of queer, intersectional, and transnational frameworks in future lines of inquiries as a way to push the sociological and public health literature on sex work forward in a way that will benefit all sex workers, their advocates, and service providers.

Birgit Sauer (2019). Mobilizing shame and disgust: abolitionist affective frames in Austrian and German anti-sex-work movements, Journal of Political Power, 12:3, 318-338, DOI: 10.1080/2158379X.2019.1669262

This article analyses anti-sex-work mobilization in Austria and Germany since 2014. An affective perspective on the websites of these groups shows how their framings run the risk of establishing a disciplinary regime of governing people, of a restrictive, heterosexist norm of sexuality, and of gender inequality. Abolitionist strategies in the two countries thus produce an affective governmentality excluding those who should not belong to the affective community, i.e. those who do not submit to limiting their sexuality to the private realm of monogamous relationships. Finally, the article suggests that the abolitionist affective mobilisation feeds into the self-affirmation of traditional branches of women’s movements in the two countries.

Sex Workers’ Personal and Professional Lives” – Special Issue of Sexual and Relationship Therapy 34(3), 2019.

Antebi-Gruszka, Nadav, Daniel Spence, and Stella Jendrzejewski. 2019. ‘Guidelines for Mental Health Practice with Clients Who Engage in Sex Work’. Sexual and Relationship Therapy 34 (3): 339–54.

Bahri, Jacenta. 2019. ‘Boyfriends, Lovers, and “Peeler Pounders”: Experiences of Interpersonal Violence and Stigma in Exotic Dancers’ Romantic Relationships’. Sexual and Relationship Therapy 34 (3): 309–28.

Bloomquist, Katie, and Eric Sprankle. 2019. ‘Sex Worker Affirmative Therapy: Conceptualization and Case Study’. Sexual and Relationship Therapy 34 (3): 392–408.

Dickson, Holly. 2019. ‘Sex Work, Motherhood, and Stigma’. Sexual and Relationship Therapy 34 (3): 332–34.

Johnson, Joey. 2019. ‘Dating While Sex Working: Civilian Dates Carry More Risk for Sex Workers’. Sexual and Relationship Therapy 34 (3): 329–31.

Matos, Bella, and Lola Haze. 2019. ‘Bottoms up: A Whorelistic Literature Review and Commentary on Sex Workers’ Romantic Relationships’. Sexual and Relationship Therapy 34 (3): 372–91.

Rayson, Josephine, and Beatrice Alba. 2019. ‘Experiences of Stigma and Discrimination as Predictors of Mental Health Help-Seeking among Sex Workers’. Sexual and Relationship Therapy 34 (3): 277–89.

Sawicki, Danielle A., Brienna N. Meffert, Kate Read, and Adrienne J. Heinz. 2019. ‘Culturally Competent Health Care for Sex Workers: An Examination of Myths That Stigmatize Sex Work and Hinder Access to Care’. Sexual and Relationship Therapy 34 (3): 355–71.

Tempest, Tiffany. 2019. ‘Relationship Boundaries, Abuse, and Internalized Whorephobia’. Sexual and Relationship Therapy 34 (3): 335–38.

Wolf, Ariel. 2019. ‘Stigma in the Sex Trades’. Sexual and Relationship Therapy 34 (3): 290–308.

Cheng, Sealing. “Echoes of Victimhood: On Passionate Activism and ‘Sex Trafficking.’” Feminist Theory, Oct. 2019, doi:10.1177/1464700119881303.

The sexually violated woman has become a salient symbol in feminist discourse, government policies, the media and transnational activism at this historical juncture. In this article, I seek to understand the conviction of anti-prostitution activists that all women in prostitution are victims (despite evidence to the contrary), and their simultaneous dismissal or condemnation of those women who identify as sex workers. The analysis identifies the centrality of victimhood to the affective logic of women activist leaders in the anti-prostitution movement, and its embeddedness in discourses of suffering and redemption in Korean nationalist historiography. Sexual victimhood thus acquires the power to incite moral outrage, compel consensus and inhibit dissent. Sex workers further come to bear the historical and political burden of righting all that is wrong with the nation, making their elimination essential for the nation’s rescue. Critiques of capitalism and the state become footnotes and silences in this process. In effect, the victimhood of ‘prostituted women’ allows women activists to circulate effectively in the affective economy of the nation as well as in the global anti-trafficking campaign. The passionate activism of anti-prostitution women activists may say less about the state of prostitution than about the activists’ subjectivity as historical and global subjects, and the symbolic world that they locate themselves in.