Very little empirical work examines female sex workers’ experiences in sociological detail, particularly within an Australian context. Drawing from a small-scale sample of female sex workers in South Australia, our findings suggest that sex workers’ ongoing negotiations within private relationships represent ‘emotion work’, as described by Hochschild, which was understood as limiting the effect of stigma. Taking the lead from social scripts associated with women’s traditional roles and associated ‘feeling rules’, participants mediated their personal lives as distinct from their professional lives to navigate their way through the complex interplay between identities. This emotion work was manifest in the negotiation of intimacy. Other factors such as partner jealousy, which emerge from dual engagement in intimate and work-related sexual behaviours, were also mediated. These findings point to a broader appreciation of emotion work as dually agential and structured and undertaken by sex workers in both their home and work spheres.
- feeling rules
- sex work