Socio-Cultural Risk? Reporting on a Qualitative Study with Female Street-Based Sex Workers

Mary Leaker, Priscilla Dunk-West

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    Risk narratives are of increasing importance in contemporary social life in that they help in understanding and anticipating the shifts that characterise our late modern landscape. Our qualitative research explores risk as it relates to violence toward street-based sex workers in a suburban Australian setting. Female street-based sex workers represent a highly stigmatised and marginalised group. International studies report that they experience high levels of sexual violence perpetrated by male clients and our empirical work with street-based sex workers in Adelaide, South Australia concurs with this finding. Despite many creative and specialized skills workers reported drawing upon to minimise the risk of violence to themselves, we argue that a socio-cultural lens is vital to viewing risk in this context. We argue that in order to effect change, risk must be disembedded from increasingly individualized discourses, since it is through the personalisation of risk that violence becomes legitimised as an occupational hazard in streetbased sex work.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-10
    Number of pages10
    JournalSociological Research Online
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2011


    • Disembedding risk
    • Gender
    • Gendered violence
    • Prostitution
    • Risk
    • Sex work
    • Socio-cultural risk theory


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