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Title: What I do, not who I am? An exploration of the pathways of women involved in sex work
Author: Dodsworth, Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 2670 2502
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2008
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This study investigates factors influencing women's involvement in sex work, their experiences, and their perception of their ability to manage roles and identities. The aim was to hear the stories of those involved, focusing on the meaning for women of their childhood and the pathways taken in adult life. Whilst reasons for entry into sex work are well documented, reasons for exiting or continuing, particularly from the perspective of those involved, are less clear. From an examination of the narratives of twenty four women, this study focuses on whether it is possible to identify key factors influencing routes into, out of, and continued involvement in sex work. Qualitative research methods were used as these are particularly suited to uncovering meanings assigned to experiences. In depth interviews were undertaken, transcribed and analysed using grounded theory. Data analysis drawing also on developmental theories of attachment and resilience identified themes of continuity and discontinuity, managing and not managing, arising from the sense women made of childhood, adult and sex work experiences. Three different psychological and behavioural strategies were identified, each leading to different pathways through often similar experiences. These differences informed, and were informed by, a sense of identity, of agency and choice about involvement, continued involvement and exiting. The study concludes that although age of first involvement in sex work is an important factor in influencing outcome, so also is the experience of childhood and adult adversity and the sense made of it by those involved. The findings suggest that early damaging experiences, which may increase the likelihood of involvement, also affect the consequent ability to deal with the experience of sex work and simultaneously 'manage' other life experiences. This provides an important perspective for reflecting on the sex work/victim-hood discourses and has relevance for future service provision, suggesting that from policy level down, there is a need to develop the facilitation of the provision of a 'secure base' for those involved in sex work which has meaning for them.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available