Emotion Work and The Management of Stigma in Female Sex Workers’ Long-term Intimate Relationships

Hannah Murphy, Priscilla Dunk-West, Jill Chonody

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1103-1116
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Sociology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


    • feeling rules
    • identity
    • intimacy
    • sex work
    • stigma


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