Many commentators have attempted to analyze and explain the nature of prostitution. However this is the first textbook to offer a complete overview of the way it operates within contemporary society, its characteristics, organizational structures, and cultural contexts. The book also explores how criminal, social, and health policies have sought to regulate and control the selling of sex. Written by leading experts with over 20 years’ experience in researching and teaching on the field, this is a must for all criminology, criminal justice, and sociology students taking modules in sex industry and prostitution studies.

The Sociology of Sex Work

The sociology of sex work

This first chapter will describe and debate the different theoretical and sociological/criminological perspectives on prostitution and the sex industry as well as the ‘rights' and ‘wrongs' of prostitution or sex work. Introducing students to the complexities of language and the implications of the different sociological and feminist debates, this chapter moves beyond the polarized perspectives of prostitution as either ‘violence against women’ or ‘sex as work’, to explore theories of women's involvement in sex work and how theories are grounded in data evidence.

The chapter begins with a brief look at the place of ‘the prostitute’ in historical texts that includes contemporary analysis of the construction of ‘the prostitute’ in official discourses (medical, legal and political).1 Next, ...

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