Research note: Managing risks: the social organisation of indoor sex work

Authors

  • Dawn Whittaker,

    Corresponding author
    1. Academic Department of Genitourinary Medicine, University College London Medical School
      Address for correspondence: Dawn Whittaker, Academic Department of Genitourinary Medicine, University College London Medical School, The Mortimer Market Centre, Mortimer Market off Capper Street, London WC1E6AU
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  • Graham Hart

    1. MRC Medical Sociology Unit, University of Glasgow
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Address for correspondence: Dawn Whittaker, Academic Department of Genitourinary Medicine, University College London Medical School, The Mortimer Market Centre, Mortimer Market off Capper Street, London WC1E6AU

Abstract

In this research note we begin to develop ideas drawn from studies concerned with the social context of sex work, and contribute to the literature on the sociology of risk, by investi- gating the social organisation and conditions of work of a group of female sex workers whose work has not so far been described in any detail - fiat-working women. These are preliminary findings from an ongoing empirical study comparing occupational risk of violence between women working in flats and street-working women in central London. Here we report on the flat-working women's employment of protective strategies, such as co-working with ‘maids’ who serve as gatekeepers, allowing clients access to the women and monitoring the time clients spend in the flats. Rather than focus on women's self-efficacy or health beliefs, we argue that it is through the social organisation of their work that we are best able to understand the nature of their risk exposure, and their strategies for managing risk and safety in relation to their occupational health.

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