Sex Work

Labour, Mobility and Sexual Services

By JaneMaree Maher, Sharon Pickering, Alison Gerard

© 2013 – Routledge

166 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415630665
pub: 2014-02-27
US Dollars$54.95
Hardback: 9780415506533
pub: 2012-09-26
US Dollars$145.00

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About the Book

Sex work has always attracted policy, public and prurient interest. Currently, legal frameworks in developed countries range from prohibition, through partial legalisation to active regulation. Globalisation has increased women’s mobility between developing and developed countries at the same time as women’s employment opportunities in the developed world are shifting. Family and intimate relationships are being transformed by changing demographics, shifting social mores and new intersections between intimate lives and global markets. Sex work is located at the nexus of new intimacies, shifting employment patterns and changing global mobilities.

This volume examines the working lives of contemporary sex workers; their practices, their labour market conditions and their engagement with domestic and international regulatory frameworks. It locates the voices and experiences of workers in Melbourne, Australia, at the centre of the sexual services industry as they reflect on brothels and independent escort work, on working conditions and managers, and on the relationships they form with clients. It offers a new account of sex work where women’s labour and mobility is understood as central in local and global imperatives to offer sexual services. It examines how these new imperatives intersect with, challenge and exceed existing regulatory frameworks for sex work.

Sex work: labour, mobility and sexual services draws together the everyday practices of sex workers and the broader global markets in which workers negotiate employment. In bringing together these two important intersecting areas, it offers a grounded and innovative account of sex work which will be of interest to academics and policy makers concerned with sex work, gender studies and the sociology of labour.


"Sex Work is, overall, a must-read for sex workers, scholars and activists who are concerned with the sex industry, as well as with issues of sexuality, labor and mobility more broadly." - Samantha Majic, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books, May 2013

"Unlike predominant public and policy discourses focused only on sex workers’ mobility as it relates to exiting the sex industry, these authors consider this within the sex industry (between legal and illegal sectors), between regulated and unregulated spaces, and across state and national borders. Drawing from extensive interviews with sex workers in Melbourne, Australia to examine how they negotiate their labor in relation to existing local and border regulatory systems, and to changing conceptualizations of sex, intimacy and embodiment, Maher, et al. argue that understanding mobility is central to understanding sex work as an everyday practice, as a regulatory site, and as part of a global employment sector…Sex Work is, overall, a must-read for sex workers, scholars and activists who are concerned with the sex industry, as well as with issues of sexuality, labor and mobility more broadly"Dr Samantha Majic, Jay College/CUNY.

Table of Contents

1. The New Intimacies and Mobilities of Sex Work: Who does it, where and why? 2. Money, Women’s Work Conditions and Sexual Services 3. In The Room and Beyond: Keeping it Nice with the Clients 4. ‘Giving my Body a Break’: Health, Well-Being and the Physical Economies of Sexual Service 5. Regulating Sex Work: The Noise and Confusion of Sexual Regulation 6. Sexual Services in the Contemporary World 7. Conclusion

About the Authors

JaneMaree Maher is an Associate Professor and currently Director in the Centre for Women’s Studies and Gender Research at Monash University, Australia. She is co-editor with Wendy Chavkin of The Globalization of Motherhood (Routledge, 2010) and also co-editor with Maggie Kirkman and Kay Torney Souter of The Fertile Imagination: Narratives of birth, fertility, and loss (Meridian, 2002).

Sharon Pickering is Professor of Criminology at Monash University, Australia. She researches irregular border crossing and has written in the areas of refugees and trafficking with a focus on gender and human rights. she currently leads a series of ARC projects focusing on the intersections of security and migration and is Editor of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology.

Alison Gerard is Senior Lecturer in Justice Studies at Charles Sturt University, Australia. She is a lawyer with ten years experience in criminal, human rights and refugee law, both in Australia and Southeast Asia. Her doctural research examined the impact of the securitization of migration on refugee women seeking entry to the European Union. She recently co-authored an article on this research that has been published by the British Journal of Criminology.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Crime and Society

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Criminology