9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN23 Sexuality

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Sex Work Building I, 1E10

Prostitution as a body work and sex work

In this paper, I wish to develop a theoretical framework for a discussion on sex work in the context of commodification of intimacy and body work.

The aim of this study is twofold. First, sex work will be conceptualised against other kind of body and emotional work.
It will be show that stigma attached to this kind of work comes from several positions. It can be defined as a sin - a danger for social order, or as an ultimate oppression of women, as it is often conceptualized within the feminist discourse. Moreover, sex work is frequently viewed as a commercialization of the most intimate sphere of women's life. However, if sex work is defined as body work it can be argued that there are many similarities between such professions as sex workers and nannies on one hand, and massage therapist on the other. From this point of view the stigma attached to sex work is not inherently inscribed in this profession, but can be interpreted as a result of discursive practices of those, who want to ban it.

Secondly, is will be show that stigmatization of the sex work may be seen as a result of deeply rooted in social sciences theoretical separation of two spheres: intimacy and economics. I wish to show that those two spheres should not be seen/conceptualized as contradictory, but deeply interwoven. An insight into the various practices of everyday life enables us to prove that there are many areas where people agree to pay for services within an intimate sphere, e.g. childcare, nursing, beauty services or therapy.

Therefore, I wish to argue that distinction between sex work and other kinds of body-work/emotional work is mainly discursive. The actual practice of everyday life of workers engaged in body work/emotional work causes similar burden in the areas of emotions management, personal attachment to clients, trust or engagement.