Home > Free Essays > Sociology > Sociological Issues > The Different Perspectives of Sex Work
Cite this

The Different Perspectives of Sex Work Research Paper


Sex work is a term that describes the engagement in sexual activity for money (Cusick & Hickman, 2005). Sex work encompasses different areas such as coming into actual physical contact with a customer who will pay for sex services, the creation of sex related videos, and participation in sex shows among others.

The views regarding sex work vary sharply divided between people who see the practice as just another career, and those who see it as a form of exploitation.

There is however consensus that when one is forced into sex work then it automatically becomes exploitative. There are different sources that describe sex addiction as an underlying factor in both the client and those who involve themselves in the trade.

Findings also indicate that many of the people are involved in sex work are drug addicts (Cusick & Hickman, 2005). Some cultural practices such as discrimination against women have been seen promote sex work in certain countries.

For instance, the Indian caste system leaves women with no other career choice. The legality of sex work differs from one country to another. Some countries regard it as a punishable crime while others treat it as a regulated profession (Cusick & Hickman, 2005).

The global sex work industry generates more than 100 US dollars every year. This paper seeks to analyze three research articles that provide different perspectives on sex work. Sex work has been chosen for this analysis because it’s a very controversial topic on which there is so much debate.

Sex work is particularly interesting as it varies greatly from one society to another, and even takes a cultural dimension in some of them. The papers used in this analysis have been carefully chosen to reflect the different faucets of sex work.

The analysis will include a critical annotation of the research articles, a critical reflection on the information revealed in the articles and a description of the direction of future research.

Annotation and critical analysis of research articles

Cusick, L., & Hickman, M. (2005). Trapping in drug use and sex work careers. Drugs: education, prevetion and policy , 12 (5): 369-379

This paper has evaluated the association between drug abuse and involvement in sex work and the reinforcing factors. The researchers categorized sex settings as outdoor, drift, indoor associated or indoor emotional (Cusick & Hickman, 2005).

The categorization to into account: the associated environmental risk factors, management of the setting and means of contact with clients (Cusick & Hickman, 2005). The sample consisted of 92 participants who had experienced sex work and drug abuse.

Three quarters of the subjects investigated agreed to have used drugs while half had sold sex before attaining the age of 18 years. A half of them had been homeless while the remaining half had been in care (Cusick & Hickman, 2005).

Twenty one percent of them had run away from their homes before attaining the age of 16 years, and 80% had been at one point convicted of theft offences.

The experiences evaluated in this study were not sufficient to explain trapping. However, the research established strong relations between entrapment and personal convictions; and entrapment and outdoor sex work.

After evaluating all the factors, the researchers concluded that the markets for drift sex may play a significant role in reinforcing drug abuse and sex work.

The sample used in this study was relatively small and therefore not sufficient in showing the differences between sex work and background vulnerabilities.

The article nevertheless raised the question regarding sex work policies, which do not take into account the fact that there are different types of prostitution or presume a similar experience when linking drug abuse and prostitution.

The researchers have tried to indicate that the vulnerabilities experienced by an individual are often not enough to reinforce drug abuse or indulgence in sex work.

The reinforcing aspect was only identified in those who work outdoor in the form of drifters (Cusick & Hickman, 2005).

This work shows the aspects of sex markets that are often not seen in other forms of trade. The researchers have shown that such settings are often characterized by bad reputations, criminal activities and poverty (Cusick & Hickman, 2005).

They are usually not governed by employment policies, licenses, healthy, safety and other requirements that have to be met by other forms of business. A typical sex market is not usually organized or a managed in a way that child abuse, drug use and violence can be prevented.

Such settings are usually not easy to police and are usually characterized by poor service delivery (Cusick & Hickman, 2005). The researchers have conceptualized such characteristics as the principle vulnerabilities found in outdoor sex markets.

Critical analysis

Sex work and other associated problems such as drug abuse are not things that can be eradicated with ease. Usually sex work creates problems when it is mutually reinforced by drug abuse.

Future research should seek to identify ways in which the mutual reinforcement can be reduced. The research should be focused on what strategies will be employed in different settings, particularly the outdoor sex markets which have been identified to be thoroughly affected by the drug use problem (Cusick & Hickman, 2005).

Cusick and Hickman have tried to show how adoption of pragmatic policies can be used to resolve the situation. The biggest weakness of this article is that it used a small sample that limits its use. However, the article forms a very good start point in the discussion regarding sex work and drug abuse.

Kontula, A. (2008). The sex Worker and her pleasure. Current sociology , 56: 605

According to this research article, prostitution is viewed stereotypically due to the notion that sex work destroys the capability of a woman to experience pleasure and sets her against her sexuality.

Through this research article the author seeks to challenge the idea that sex work is always destructive. The author cites a common belief that commercial sex, as opposed to private sex, has the ability to alienate a woman from her sexuality or from her whole identity in some cases (Kontula, 2008).

The paper mainly examines the associations that between sex work and the pleasure experienced by the sex worker (Kontula, 2008). The term sex work is used in this article is used to refer to a number of services including prostitution, phone sex, porn acting, stripping or table dancing.

Data for this paper was collected from prostitutes, otherwise referred to as sex workers. The study was carried out in Finland where there is a comparatively high level of social security benefits and therefore advantageous to prostitutes.

The country guarantees a certain standard or living and therefore most prostitution activities are voluntary. Most of the sex workers are independent call girls who are otherwise considered to be elite sex workers in many other countries.

The free education systems ensures that sex workers in Finland have other options to them and therefore most of them stay in business for less than five years.

The data was collected in a period of three years and includes messages on internet discussion channel belong to sex workers and interviews. The interviews were conducted on 25 subjects aged between 16 and 65 years and who worked mainly as call girls, street prostitutes, phone sex workers, strippers and fantasy facilitators.

The researcher is the vice president of the United Sex Professionals of Finland (Kontula, 2008). The researcher had a challenge in getting respondents due to the fact that prostitution is highly stigmatized, marginalized and shrouded in secrecy across the Finnish society.

Outdoor prostitution is illegal and foreigners are strictly forbidden to work as prostitutes. The sex workers interviewed by the research seemed to show that they enjoy both commercial and private sexual relationships.

There is a perception that professional sex distances itself from the prostitute’s own enjoyment, it however has a potential to a more pleasurable sex life (Kontula, 2008).

Critical analysis

As established by the findings of this study, it’s evident that commercial sex does not always result into sexual alienation.

The subjects investigated in this research showed the ability to experience pleasure both in private and commercial relationships (Kontula, 2008). Both situations have the potential to expose a sex worker to traumatic experiences.

The researcher therefore proposes an analysis of other factors other than the basic sex act. Of particular interest should be the circumstances under which the act is performed.

The author agrees that in the life of a given prostitute, the sex work can be a supportive or destructive aspect of sexuality.

This information is synthesized from the findings from the Finnish study. As stated earlier the conditions in Finland vary significantly compared to other countries. Therefore, similar investigations should be conducted in countries that have similar conditions.

The study population used in this study is also very small for the findings to be generalized (Kontula, 2008). In the literature part, it was established there are significant amount of options available to sex works in Finland.

The findings of this study deviates from the findings established in the first study in the sense that it does not take into account factors such as drug abuse as possible trappings for sex workers.

Gopal, M. (2012). Caste, sexuality and labour: The troubled connection. Ccurrent Sociology , 60:222

This research paper investigates the controversial link between feminist research and activism in the Indian society. The author is a member of the autonomous feminist collective forum against oppression of women in Mumbai (Gopal, 2012).

The author therefore takes advantage of her participation in the forum and other platforms to investigate the feminist thinking on caste and sexual labor (Gopal, 2012). In the article, the author outlines the relationship between the caste system, sexuality and labor.

The caste system practiced in the Indian society reinforces inequality through oppressive means. The idea of untouchability forms the core of the hierarchy and exclusion of the caste system (Gopal, 2012).

The dialogues, from which the author draws her findings from, were sparked by an action undertaken by the government of Maharashtra state in India. In the 2005, the above stated government banned women from participating in dance bars.

The ban included bars also affected bars in Mumbai. Women were targeted because they were the principle attraction the youths who went to the bar to squander money earned through unjust means.

The effect of the ban brought to the fore the realities affecting many women in India, particularly as a result of the caste system. According to the author, the bar dancers are sex laborers who have been encouraged by the practices embodied in the caste system.

About a quarter of those investigated agreed to have worked in other jobs in the informal sector. Such jobs include domestic work, sales jobs, small time factory jobs, and stage shows (Gopal, 2012).

The study shows that most of the women who came to the dance bars were the sole family providers and supported families both in the city and back in the villages. The women in question do not have the power to access any other source of income as the education system has specifically discriminated against them.

However, most of these traditional bar dancers did not indulge in sexual activities with their customers (Gopal, 2012).

Critical Analysis

This paper combines findings from literature searches with the reality that is currently happening in India. The researcher states that the dialogues and deliberations are still ongoing and therefore the paper does not provide any concrete conclusions regarding sexuality, labor and the caste system.

What comes out is that dancing as a form of sex work in India is an activity performed by women of lower castes as an economic activity that is deeply entrenched in the India tradition.

The paper does not show the extent to which the women agree to the practice. This study focused to small area of sex work and did not deliberate on the connections that exist with other factors such as security and drug use.

The only factors that come out clearly are the structural discrimination tied to the caste system and the lack of other career opportunities for women involved. It’s important to note that each and every society around the globe has had some form of cultural gender discrimination.

Most have managed to shade the cultural stigmas and offered equal opportunities to women. There is need for similar studies to be conducted in other parts of the world that might be experiencing similar issues.

This research paper is not structured in the formal way but nevertheless reports on findings that have been encountered in a real life scenario.

The study gives an important insight into the different challenges facing sex workers around the globe. It’s important to note that the sex work implied in this study is not viewed as morally wrong in the eyes of the worker.


This paper sought to annotate and analyze three research papers on sex work. The paper aimed at providing a critical analysis of the different perspectives regarding sex work.

The analysis has included the main arguments, research questions and the findings and a brief description of the strengths and weaknesses. The emergent literature and the direction for future research have also been described.

The three articles analyzed investigated different factors related to sex work. The first article investigated the connection between drug use and sex work and their trappings.

The second article sought to clarify the popular assumption that sex work results into reduced sexual pleasure. The third article showed the connection between the Indian caste system and the sex work done by dancing in bars. The three articles have added new information to the dominant literature.

The first article has confirmed that sex work, particularly outdoor prostitution, is very much linked to drug abuse, insecurity, violence and other forms of lawlessness.

The second article has led to the establishment that sex work does not necessarily result into reduced sexuality. The third article has shown the connection between cultural practices and sex work.

Only the findings of the first article can be extrapolated to other populations. The second and third articles were highly specific to the areas where the respective studies were conducted.

The three articles provide important insights into the different aspects of sex work. The articles have shown the factors that lead to the practice, the perceptions and the different outcomes.

The first article relates sex work to environmental setting and other habits of the sex worker. The second article shows that the sex worker might have choices.

The third article shows how structural discrimination can leave one with no other choice other than sex work. All in all, the articles have shown the complexity associated with the area of study.

It’s important that other future studies be conducted to confirm and reinforce the current findings.

This research paper on The Different Perspectives of Sex Work was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.
Removal Request
If you are the copyright owner of this paper and no longer wish to have your work published on IvyPanda.
Request the removal

Need a custom Research Paper sample written from scratch by
professional specifically for you?

Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar
Writer online avatar

301 certified writers online

Cite This paper

Select a website citation style:


IvyPanda. (2019, December 10). The Different Perspectives of Sex Work. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-different-perspectives-of-sex-work/

Work Cited

"The Different Perspectives of Sex Work." IvyPanda, 10 Dec. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/the-different-perspectives-of-sex-work/.

1. IvyPanda. "The Different Perspectives of Sex Work." December 10, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-different-perspectives-of-sex-work/.


IvyPanda. "The Different Perspectives of Sex Work." December 10, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-different-perspectives-of-sex-work/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "The Different Perspectives of Sex Work." December 10, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-different-perspectives-of-sex-work/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Different Perspectives of Sex Work'. 10 December.

More related papers