Gaynor, Andrea (2018) Contesting identity and status: a study of female commercial sex workers and citizenship. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The extant research concerning commercial-sexwork is extensive, covering a diverse range of issues, such as physical and psychological risks; with on-street work regarded as persistently perilous. CSWs are marginalised from mainstream society by their work identity and associated behaviours which are incongruous with societal mores and norms for ideal citizens. Yet, apart from research related to geographical space and citizenship rights, and a few studies relating to sexual citizenship; the relationship between citizenship status/identity and commercial-sexwork is overlooked or included as an ‘add on’ to other concerns. This is regarded as an omission as those who do not conform to citizenship ideals are offered a “hand-up” or experience increased monitoring by the state in the form of law and policy directives. Importantly, for CSWs historical and contemporary legal and policy discourses (such as nuisance, victim, abuser, exiting and criminal) impact negatively upon their relationship with citizenship status compounding their marginalisation. Thus the overarching aim within this thesis is that it explores the citizenship journeys of CSWs utilising Lister’s (2003a) differentiated universalism citizenship concept. To achieve this aim there are four research questions; ‘How do CSWs experience citizenship?’, ‘How do participants express their understandings of citizenship?’, ‘To what extent are values and ethics a component of commercial-sexwork?’ and ‘How does a citizenship identity relate to a commercial-sexwork identity?’. A thematic analysis of data from five semi-structured interviews and 123 online forum correspondents found three overarching themes: ‘Understanding citizenship: Civil rights and duties, and social rights’; ‘Enacting citizenship: active citizenship and intimate citizenship and commercial sex work’ and ‘Exiting commercial-sexwork: becoming ‘normal’ citizens’. The main findings were that CSWs understand the conditional nature of citizenship; they pursue the right to work and the duties to pay tax and national insurance; evidence active citizenship behaviours, a community of practice and there is support for the notion that the disembodied nature of commercial-sexwork corresponds to work within the public arena - challenging the public/private binary. Yet, the state has appropriated these CSWs citizenship contributions without the corresponding benefits of citizenship status or identity. Further, via the quasi-legal status of commercial-sex work, the state has ignored or misrecognised key citizenship attributes such as agency in terms of their right to choose to work in this arena; such omissions amount to an injustice. This is compounded by the state’s exiting process which does little to advance CSWs status and identity but rather leads to a disciplined citizenship status. This thesis concludes that for transformative recognition, a more differentiated citizenship concept which recognises the similarity between CSWs and other females in terms of claims to rights, agency and justice but acknowledges their diversity is a necessity. Additionally, policy and legal discourses are ineffective in reducing CSWs marginalisation which impacts on their citizenship status. The latter will continue unless law and policy makers explicitly recognise CSWs citizenship contributions whilst considering how legal and policy discourse negatively construct the citizenship status of those who conform (victims or those who exit) and those who do not (nuisances or criminals).

Gaynor THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (1MB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email