The State of Sex: Tourism, Sex and Sin in the New American Heartland, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The State of Sex

Tourism, Sex and Sin in the New American Heartland, 1st Edition

By Barbara G. Brents, Crystal A. Jackson, Kathryn Hausbeck


320 pages

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Paperback: 9780415929486
pub: 2009-12-15
Hardback: 9780415929479
pub: 2009-12-16
eBook (VitalSource) : 9780203860250
pub: 2009-12-16
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The State of Sex is a study of Nevada’s brothels that situates the nation's only legal brothel industry in the political economy of contemporary tourism. Nevada is part of the "new American heartland," as its pastimes, people, and politics have become more central to the nation. The rise of a service and leisure economy over the past sixty years has propelled sexuality into the heart of contemporary markets. Yet, neoliberal laws in the United States promote business but limit sexual commerce.

How have Nevada's legal brothels survived, while the rest of the country criminalizes prostitution? How do brothels operate? Who works in them? This book brings social theory on globalizing economies, politics, leisure consumption, and emotional labor in interactive service work together with research on contemporary prostitution and sexual commerce. The authors employ an innovative, multi-method sociological approach, combining historical analysis of how the brothels came to be with over a decade's worth of ethnographic research on the current state of the industry.


"This book brings together rich empirical data that builds new sociological theory to help explain the state of commercial sex in the global leisure consumer society. The voices of sex workers from the Nevada brothels make this book an essential for anyone reading about or studying the sex industries."—Teela Sanders, University of Leeds, UK

"This book is a strong contribution to sociology and our understanding of sex work and the sex industry. The authors' extensive fieldwork captures an intricate snapshot of the Nevada legal brothel industry…undergraduate students along and the sex worker community will benefit from this book."—Carly Chillmon, University of California, Santa Barbara

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The State of Sex 2. Contexts of Sexual Commerce 3. The Making of Nevada Prostitution 4. The Business of Selling Sex 5. Paths to Brothel Work 6. Brothel Labor: Making Fantasies 7. Conclusion: Learning from Nevada

About the Authors

Barbara G. Brents, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Sociology and

Faculty Affiliate in Women’s Studies at the University of Nevada, Las


Crystal A. Jackson, M.A., is a Ph.D. student in the Department of

Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Kathryn Hausbeck, Ph.D., is Senior Associate Dean of the Graduate

College and Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of

Nevada, Las Vegas.

About the Series

Sociology Re-Wired

This innovative series is for all readers interested in books that provide frameworks for making sense of the complexities of contemporary social life. Each of the books in this series uses a sociological lens to provide current critical and analytical perspectives on significant social issues, patterns and trends. The series consists of books that integrate the best ideas in sociological thought with an aim toward public education and engagement. These books are designed for use in the classroom as well as for scholars and socially curious general readers.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Women's Studies