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Mainstreaming the Sex Industry: Economic Inclusion and Social Ambivalence

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Abstract:

This paper seeks to analyse the expansion of commercial sex through processes of mainstreaming in economic and social institutions. We argue that cultural changes and neo-liberal policies and attitudes have enabled economic mainstreaming, whilst social ambivalence continues to provide the backdrop to a prolific and profitable global industry. We chart the advancement of sexual consumption and sexual service provision in late capitalism before defining the concept of ‘mainstreaming’ applied here. We use the case studies of Las Vegas and Leeds to identify various social and economic dimensions to the mainstreaming process and the ways these play out in law and regulation. While social and economic processes have integrated sexual services into night-time commerce, remaining social ambivalence fuels transgression and marginalization of the industry which in fact assists the mainstreaming process. Finally, we project some implications for gender relations, work, and inequalities as a result of the integration of sexual services into the economy.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6478.2010.00494.x

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas NV 89154-5033, United States of America., Email: barb.brents@unlv.edu 2: School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, England., Email: T.L.M.Sanders@leeds.ac.uk

Publication date: 2010-03-01

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