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‘Lived bodies’ and the neoliberal city – a case study of vulnerability in London

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This article explores the ‘more-than-work’ aspects of the lives of vulnerable women who street-sex work. Particularly, we are interested in the differences between the women’s experiences, within the broader context of power structures as manifested in neoliberal cities. Few studies have explored this aspect of street-sex workers’ lives and theorisations of the co-creation of environments tend to elide the experiences of the most vulnerable people. Specifically, we explore the relationships that these women have with two environments: the quotidian (where they undertake routine everyday activities), and the gentrified (relating to changes in the spaces in which they live and work). We find that their experiences are extremely local, and heavily contingent on the services made available to them (or not) by the statutory and third sectors, and the emotional contacts they make, particularly in third sector support services. This challenges some of the literature which suggests a separation of ‘home’ and ‘work’, and which finds close associations between women who street-sex work. While places designed by the third sector are more responsive to these women, they are also more vulnerable to closure through lack of funding. This contributes to a significant degree of ontological non-linearity and ontological insecurity in these women’s lives.
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Keywords: Identity; lived bodies; neoliberal city; street-sex work; urban space

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: An Independent Researcher, The University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK 2: Department of Social Sciences, Media and Communications, College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UK 3: Independent Researcher, Brighton, UK

Publication date: March 4, 2018

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