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‘I’m Not Only a Sex Worker’: An Empirical Exploration of the Histories, Experiences and Identities of Women Who Sell Sex in the Midlands, UK.

Binch, Lucy (2018) ‘I’m Not Only a Sex Worker’: An Empirical Exploration of the Histories, Experiences and Identities of Women Who Sell Sex in the Midlands, UK. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis empirically explores the histories, experiences and identities of women who sell sex in the Midlands, UK. It draws upon twenty life history interviews conducted over a period of twelve months, supplemented with many hours of informal observation at both the organisation where participants were initially recruited and other establishments such as sauna’s and working flats. While debates around commercial sex may be prominent within public, political and academic arenas, the voices of those who choose to sell sex are still often assumed, overlooked or ignored. This thesis permits a unique exploration of how women perceive their lives, journeys and their choices and provides them with a platform to be heard and the opportunity to tell their own stories, in their own way, rather than them being constructed for them. The main finding of this thesis is that while some women who work within the UK sex industry acknowledge the stigmas of sex work, they do not internalise these stigmas to such a degree that it affects their own sense of self. Instead, the majority of women in this study utilise sex work as a coping strategy for other forms of marginalisation they receive, and as a method of managing other ‘deviant’ roles and identities that they embody. This thesis also highlights the importance of unresolved childhood trauma when examining entry into sex work and exploring who sex workers are today. The data indicates that those who sell sex from outdoor markets report ‘normal’ and ‘happy’ histories until a significant event caused them great distress, disruption and pain. At particularly traumatic times in their lives the women interviewed for this research chose to sell sex. The interview data I collected and my analysis of that explores why.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Law (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.784688
Depositing User: Miss Lucy Binch
Date Deposited: 09 Sep 2019 08:17
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2019 20:08
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/24715

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