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  • Author or Editor: Natasha Mulvihill x
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Using unpublished email interviews collected for a Home Office project on the sex industry, this anthology presents the individual stories of sex workers and buyers in England and Wales, in their own words. The author Natasha Mulvihill also re-interviews the participants to reflect on their original interview, their experience of engaging in research and of managing through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of interest to policy-makers and students of Criminology, Sociology, Social Policy, Law and Qualitative Methods, the text seeks to navigate through the difficult politics of the sex industry and re-focus our understanding on the lived experiences of those involved.

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In this paper, I wish to explore whether it is time to drop the use of the term ‘prostitution’ in English policy discourse. I argue here that ‘prostitution’ is a culturally loaded term and is insufficiently precise in describing the different contexts in which the exchange of sex for money or other resources between adults takes place. This lack of clarity has implications for policy action, which in turn materially affects the lives of those involved in the sex industry. I draw on thesis of the eroticisation of dominance as a productive framework for explaining why violence, harm and coercion are possible within the exchange of sex for money (or other resource), though not inevitable. I propose that we distinguish four categories: sex entrepreneurship, sex work, survival sex and sexual exploitation. For some scholars, such categorisations overlook how disparate practices are connected (), most obviously by patriarchy or economic inequality. However, I believe we need to see both the connections and the distinctions: if we conflate different practices, we lose the particularity of the contexts of practice and weaken the rationale for policy action. Worse, policy interventions may be harmful. I suggest these four categories can help us identify and distinguish between structural and interpersonal harm and structural and interpersonal coercion and help to formulate attendant criminal justice and social justice measures.

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This chapter presents extended narratives from two managed brothel sex workers working in England and Wales, formerly and currently, as well as short excerpts from interviews with other participants. Topics covered include autonomy, harm, managing the law and hopes for the future. It also explores the impact of COVID-19 and on the experience of participating in academic and government research.

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This chapter presents extended narratives from two erotic dancers and strippers working in England and Wales, as well as short excerpts from interviews with other participants. Topics covered include autonomy, harm, managing the law, the licensing of Sexual Entertainment Venues (SEVs) and hopes for the future. It also explores the impact of COVID-19 and on the experience of participating in academic and government research.

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This chapter presents extended narratives from three sex buyers who pay for sexual services in England and Wales, as well as short excerpts from interviews with other participants. Topics covered include motivations, experiences, risks, the law and criminalization. It also explores the impact of COVID-19 and the experience of participating in academic and government research.

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This final chapter describes the process of seeking feedback on individual chapters from each participant and reflects on the methodological implications of the book overall. Also acknowledged are the limitations and absences.

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This chapter sets out the aims of the book, the policy context for sex work and prostitution in England and Wales and an overview of the existing literature, including narrative and memoir style approaches.

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This chapter explains how the participant sample was identified; the use of email interviews; ethics; the position of the author; the narrative framework analysis approach; and how participants were involved in the writing process. It concludes by signposting the structure of the book.

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This chapter presents extended narratives from five female independent sex workers working in England and Wales, as well as short excerpts from interviews with other participants. Topics covered include autonomy, harm, managing the law and hopes for the future. It also explores the impact of COVID-19 and on the experience of participating in academic and government research.

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This chapter presents extended narratives from five male independent sex workers working in England and Wales, as well as short excerpts from interviews with other participants. Topics covered include autonomy, harm, managing the law and hopes for the future. It also explores the impact of COVID-19 and the experience of participating in academic and government research.

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