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Tag Archives: Theory and Method

Stigma is ubiquitous in sex work and is well documented in studies of sex workers. But rarely have scholars examined the vital question of whether, and if so how, stigma can be reduced or eliminated from any type of sex work (commercial stripping, pornography, prostitution, etc.). After a brief review of the issues related to stigma, this Commentary proposes a set of preconditions for the reduction and, ultimately, elimination of stigma from sex work.

Minichiello, Victor, John Scott, and Cameron Cox. “Commentary: Reversing the Agenda of Sex Work Stigmatization and Criminalization: Signs of a Progressive Society.” Sexualities, January 18, 2017, 1363460716684510. doi:10.1177/1363460716684510.
Chapkis, Wendy. “Commentary: Response to Weitzer ‘Resistance to Sex Work Stigma.’” Sexualities, January 18, 2017, 1363460716684511. doi:10.1177/1363460716684511.
Phoenix, Jo. “A Commentary: Response to Weitzer ‘Resistance to Sex Work Stigma.’” Sexualities, January 18, 2017, 1363460716684512. doi:10.1177/1363460716684512.
Weitzer, Ronald. “Additional Reflections on Sex Work Stigma.” Sexualities, January 18, 2017, 1363460716684513. doi:10.1177/1363460716684513.

McGrow, Lauren. ‘Doing It (Feminist Theology and Faith-Based Outreach) with Sex Workers – Beyond Christian Rescue and the Problem-Solving Approach’, Feminist Theology Vol 25/2 (2017): 150-169.

Abstract

This paper problematises the usual Christian motif of rescue of sex workers that is disseminated by most faith-based groups working in the field. By focusing upon the problem of prostitution and individual rescue as the primary solution, broader relationships of accountability are neglected and complicated sex worker identifications become impossible. New strategies for thinking about human sexuality are needed that incorporate indecency as a way of questioning traditional moral representations reproduced by Christian outreach projects. As well, three strategies are outlined that could form counter-narratives for ministry and feminist theological reflection not based upon sex work as a problem to be resolved but instead carving out creative space for mutual engagement between pastoral practitioners and sex industry workers. 

Showden, Carisa R. “Theorising Maybe: A Feminist/Queer Theory Convergence.” Feminist Theory 13, no. 1 (April 1, 2012): 3–25. doi:10.1177/1464700111429898.
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Abstract
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In this article, I examine the seemingly incompatible epistemologies of sex offered by dominance (‘governance’) feminism and queer theory. While these bodies of work, especially when applied to US legal and political activity on prostitution, are commonly viewed as divergent sparring partners, I propose a ‘convergence’ of the two in the form of a revived and enhanced sex-positive feminism. If dominance feminism is the ‘theory of no’ to heterosexuality’s male gender power, and if queer theory is the ‘theory of yes’ to the defiant possibilities of sex, sex-positive feminism is a ‘theory of maybe’: it examines practices of gender and sexuality in multiple contexts to find the ways in which heterosexuality can sometimes reify, and other times resist, the transfer of eroticised dominance and submission to political practices of patriarchy. After tracing the split between feminism and queer theory and arguing for a ‘sex-positive queer feminism’, I use the example of prostitution to consider some theoretical and practical implications of this shift in feminist lenses.
Künkel, Jenny. “Gentrification and the Flexibilisation of Spatial Control: Policing Sex Work in Germany.” Urban Studies, December 6, 2016, 42098016682427. doi:10.1177/0042098016682427.
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Gentrification has often been linked to the spatial displacement of the marginalised, including prostitutes. However, in Germany, the legal spaces of prostitution are to a certain extent defensible, and gentrification processes often cover larger parts of inner cities, leaving little room for displacement. Using the example of prostitution in Frankfurt, this paper analyses how police make sense of and shape the shifting geographies of gentrification. It shows how spatial displacement is partially subsumed by two additional police strategies: intensifying attempts to discursively appease protesting citizens, and flexibilising the containment of prostitution in the inner city (e.g. by keeping street scenes on the move and lobbying for temporary brothel licenses).
Abstract
This chapter describes my experiences of conducting research on commercial sex in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which was conducted as part of a larger British Academy–Leverhulme Trust-funded study that examined the policing and legal regulation of commercial sex in Belfast (Northern Ireland) along with three other cities: Manchester (England), Berlin (Germany) and Prague (Czech Republic). This study provided the first empirical analysis of commercial sex in the jurisdiction and was instrumental in shedding light on prevalence rates for those involved in the industry as well as providing demographic information on the age, nationality and sexual orientation of sex workers along with the sector worked in, whether on-street or off-street (Ellison 2015). While academics and researchers are now well attuned to the varieties and differences in the organisation of commercial sex both within and between jurisdictions, what is less well studied and understood are the ways in which attitudes to commercial sex are deeply embedded in local political cultures (Ellison 2015; Zimmerman 2012). In the chapter, I consider my role as a researcher and highlight some of the difficulties that I experienced conducting what was seen as controversial research in the politically, socially and culturally conservative context of Northern Ireland. In this respect, I situate the discussion within the Northern Ireland Assembly’s decision to legislate for Lord Morrow’s (of the Democratic Unionist Party, henceforth DUP) Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Further Provisions and Support for Victims) Bill that included a number of provisions to provide support to victims of human trafficking but controversially also included specific provisions to make it a criminal offence to ‘pay for the sexual services of a person’ (Clause 15) in emulation of the so-called ‘Nordic model’ of criminalisation of demand.

Hannem, S. and Tigchelaar, A. (2016), Doing It in Public: Dilemmas of Images, Voice, and Constructing Publics in Public Sociology on Sex Work. Symbolic Interaction, 39: 634–653. doi:10.1002/symb.260

Abstract

This study describes the use of traditional public sociology as a method of recruitment for organic public sociology research with sex workers. Drawing on their grounded research experience, the authors discuss the issues of representation and framing of the research that arise when engaging in public research with multiple stakeholder publics. Specifically, professional publics may act as gatekeepers to subaltern groups and publicly engaged research risks reproducing existing power inequities and marginalization. However, traditional public sociology can be a tool to engage with subaltern groups and to construct a public where one did not exist; here we examine the complexities, the possibilities, and pitfalls of constructing publics.

 

The Student Sex Work Project was set up in 2012 in the United Kingdom (UK) to locate students who are involved in the sex industry, to discover their motivations and needs, and in doing so provide an evidence base to consider the development of policy and practice within Higher Education. As part of this initiative, a large survey was undertaken comprising students from throughout the UK. Reporting on the findings from this survey, the article sheds some light on what occupations students take up in the sex industry, what motivates their participation and how they experience the work. The study also offers a much-needed empirical input to the ongoing academic debates on the nature of sex work. The results suggest that there can be little doubt of a student presence within the sex industry in the UK. The motivations and experiences of student sex workers cover elements of agency and choice as well as of force and exploitation and it is suggested that student sex work is best understood from a polymorphous framework which leaves room for a wide variety of experiences and challenges.