Commercial Sexualities: Section Introduction

Authored by: Maarten Loopmans

The Routledge Research Companion to Geographies of Sex and Sexualities

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9781472455482
eBook ISBN: 9781315613000
Adobe ISBN: 9781317043331


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Since the pioneering work of geographers like Symanski (1974; 1981), Shumsky and Springer (1981) and Ashworth et al. (1988), sex work has been one of the topical interests in the subdiscipline of geographies of sexualities. Symanski (1981) and Ashworth et al. (1988), inspired by then fashionable social ecology studies and Robert Park’s concept of the ‘moral region’ (places in the city where divergent moral codes prevailed), sought to understand and explain the location of sex work through economic and sociopolitical determinants. Whilst debates in this field continue up to today – for example, in McKewon’s (2003), Ryder’s (2004, 2010) and Cameron’s (2004) writings on the political and economic determinants of the location of sex work venues or in Aalbers and Sabat’s (2012) and Weitzer’s (2014) discussion of the red-light district as a ‘moral region’ – geographical research on sex work has now expanded and diverged in various new directions (Hubbard and Whowell, 2008). Contemporary geographical studies on sex work include critical accounts of the relations between, and politics of, urban regeneration, heteronormativity, transnational migration and the policing of sex work as much as approaches giving voice to sex workers and their lived experiences, their spatial tactics of resistance and performances of self. We now also have a wide variety of case studies of cities and sex workers from the Global North to the Global South.

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