On Our Own Terms: The Working Conditions of Internet-Based Sex Workers in the UK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The sex industry is increasingly operated through online technologies, whether this is selling services online through webcam or advertising, marketing or organising sex work through the Internet and digital technologies. Using data from a survey of 240 internet-based sex workers (members of the National Ugly Mug reporting scheme in the UK), we discuss the working conditions of this type of work. We look at the basic working patterns, trajectories and everyday experiences of doing sex work via an online medium and the impact this has on the lives of sex workers. For instance, we look at levels of control individuals have over their working conditions, prices, clientele and services sold, and discuss how this is mediated online and placed in relation to job satisfaction. The second key finding is the experience of different forms of crimes individuals are exposed to such as harassment and blackmail via the new technologies. We explore the relationship internet-based sex workers have with the police and discuss how current laws in the UK have detrimental effects in terms of safety and access to justice. These findings are placed in the context of the changing landscape of sex markets as the digital turn determines the nature of the majority of commercial sex encounters. These findings contribute significantly to the populist coercion/choice political debates by demonstrating levels and types of agency and autonomy experienced by some sex workers despite working in a criminalized, precarious and sometimes dangerous context.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-146
JournalSociological Research Online
Volume21
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2016