Sex Work, Theory and Praxis: A Study in Student Dialogue


Alyssa Chai

Class Year


Access Type

Archival Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Sociology Department

First Advisor

Carlos Alamo

Second Advisor

William Hoynes


Drawing from eight separately conducted student interviews, this thesis analyzes student perception of sex work and the relationship between theory and praxis in discussions surrounding sex work. Through these discussions and related research, I observed a general disconnect between sex work in philosophical terms and sex work in pragmatic terms; students typically accepted sex work in an idealized world but were conflicted when confronted with the realities of sex work. With this data in mind, I discuss public and academic opinion towards sex work. I then analyze the nature and implications of the debate between two feminist schools of thought; the empowerment perspective and the oppression perspective. I argue that the polarizing effects of the language and sentiment of these two paradigms are detrimental, both for future sex work policy as well as for the agency and well-being of individual sex workers.

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