Research Student: Laura Jarvis-King
Experiences of indoor sex industry spaces
The research attempts to identify how indoor sex workers have experienced the financial crisis and austerity measures; exploring how they worked before and how changes in economic conditions have affected their working decisions and practices since. In particular, I am interested in how the time of sex workers has been affected by economic conditions and also how sex workers organise their time at work.
Using these narratives, themes relating to work trajectories are explored more widely in terms of women’s position within the labour market. Although sex work is often considered to be positioned within an informal economy, the research draws on evidence to suggest it is increasingly mainstreamed in the way that it is organised. My findings within the sex industry will therefore have wider relevance to women’s work in general.
Further, I look specifically at the services sold within the commercial sex transaction; identifying changes to client requests and the services offered by sex workers, in order to explore the relationship between service provider and consumer. In fact, considering it is usually an allotted time that is sold within the transaction, I am interested in how this time is managed by sex workers.
I currently volunteer with Basis, a Leeds-based sex worker support project. My work here has recently been supported by LSSI placement funding. Primarily, I am working with service users to complete a needs assessment for sex workers in both indoor and street markets of the sex industry. I also offer support during outreach sessions.
I have also worked on a quantitative study of internet sex workers, funded by the Wellcome Trust, with Teela Sanders and National Ugly Mugs.
Before this, I completed my undergraduate and masters degrees at the University of Leeds. During this time I became focused upon gender and sexuality; specifically how this is represented in space and time. My undergraduate dissertation focused on an evaluation of visual methodologies in studying the lap-dancing industry and an exploration of visuals surrounding the industry. I developed this further during my masters with an exploration of the spaces consumed by indoor sex work.
I have a work background in developing professional development and education programmes for health professionals in the NHS and museum professionals for Leeds City Council. While studying for my undergraduate degree on a part time basis I worked for an advocacy group within the higher education sector.
I teach (or have taught) on the following modules:
- Sex Work: Theory, Policy and Politics (Level 3)
- Understanding and Researching the City (Level 1)
- Crime and Deviance (Level 1)
- Globalization: Equality and Diversity (Level 2)
Connelly, L., Jarvis-King, L. and Ahearne, G. (2015). Guest Editors of Journal Edition: Blurred Lines: The Contested Nature of Sex Work in a Changing Landscape. Graduate Journal of Social Sciences 11(2).
Sanders, T., Connelly, L. and Jarvis-King, L. (2015). Internet-based sex workers: Working conditions and job satisfaction. [Online]. School of Sociology and Social Policy. Available at: <http://www.sociology.leeds.ac.uk/assets/files/InternetNUMBriefingFINAL.docx>.
What makes me passionate about my subject?
Most popular representations of prostitution, and many academic texts, treat sex work as a deviant lifestyle choice rather than a job. This research attempts to shift the focus and advocates that sex work is work. As such, it should be researched in the same way we research other forms of labour in more formal economies. The evidence I have collected so far demonstrates clearly that sex work as a form of labour is comparable to the work roles available in many other forms of work.