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Author

Michaela Smith

Other affiliations: University of British Columbia
Bio: Michaela Smith is an academic researcher from University of Victoria. The author has contributed to research in topics: Sex work & Stigma (botany). The author has an hindex of 9, co-authored 13 publications receiving 343 citations. Previous affiliations of Michaela Smith include University of British Columbia.

Papers
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The article draws attention to the problem of terminology related to the subject area and makes the case for consideration of prostitution stigmatization as a fundamental cause of social inequality, and examined the sources of prostitution stigma at macro, meso, and micro levels.
Abstract: Researchers have shown that stigma is a fundamental determinant of behavior, well-being, and health for many marginalized groups, but sex workers are notably absent from their analyses. This article aims to fill the empirical research gap on sex workers by reviewing the mounting evidence of stigmatization attached to sex workers' occupation, often referred to as "prostitution" or "whore" stigma. We give special attention to its negative effect on the working conditions, personal lives, and health of sex workers. The article first draws attention to the problem of terminology related to the subject area and makes the case for consideration of prostitution stigmatization as a fundamental cause of social inequality. We then examined the sources of prostitution stigma at macro, meso, and micro levels. The third section focuses on tactics sex workers employ to manage, reframe, or resist occupational stigma. We conclude with a call for more comparative studies of stigma related to sex work to contribute to the general stigma literature, as well as social policy and law reform.

180 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: It is argued that the strongest empirical evidence is for adoption of the second perspective that aims to develop integrative policies that reduce the intersecting social inequalities sex workers face in their struggle to make a living and be included as equals.
Abstract: Prostitution, payment for the exchange of sexual services, is deemed a major social problem in most countries around the world today, with little to no consensus on how to address it. In this Target Article, we unpack what we discern as the two primary positions that undergird academic thinking about the relationship between inequality and prostitution: (1) prostitution is principally an institution of hierarchal gender relations that legitimizes the sexual exploitation of women by men, and (2) prostitution is a form of exploited labor where multiple forms of social inequality (including class, gender, and race) intersect in neoliberal capitalist societies. Our main aims are to: (a) examine the key claims and empirical evidence available to support or refute each perspective; (b) outline the policy responses associated with each perspective; and (c) evaluate which responses have been the most effective in reducing social exclusion of sex workers in societal institutions and everyday practices. While the overall trend globally has been to accept the first perspective on the "prostitution problem" and enact repressive policies that aim to protect prostituted women, punish male buyers, and marginalize the sex sector, we argue that the strongest empirical evidence is for adoption of the second perspective that aims to develop integrative policies that reduce the intersecting social inequalities sex workers face in their struggle to make a living and be included as equals. We conclude with a call for more robust empirical studies that use strategic comparisons of the sex sector within and across regions and between sex work and other precarious occupations.

74 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The peer education program proved successful in enhancing sex workers’ community empowerment in one urban setting by increasing their knowledge about health issues, sharing information about and building confidence in accessing services, and expanding capacity to disseminate this knowledge to others.
Abstract: Social marginalization and criminalization create health and safety risks for sex workers and reduce their access to health promotion and prevention services compared to the general population. Community empowerment-based interventions that prioritize the engagement of sex workers show promising results. Peer-to-peer interventions, wherein sex workers act as educators of their colleagues, managers, clients and romantic partners, foster community mobilization and critical consciousness among sex workers and equip them to exercise agency in their work and personal lives. A pilot peer health education program was developed and implemented, with and for sex workers in one urban centre in Canada. To explore how the training program contributed to community empowerment and transformative learning among participants, the authors conducted qualitative interviews, asked participants to keep personal journals and to fill out feedback forms after each session. Thematic analysis was conducted on these three data sources, with emerging themes identified, organized and presented in the findings. Five themes emerged from the analysis. Our findings show that the pilot program led to reduced internalized stigma and increased self-esteem in participants. Participants’ critical consciousness increased concerning issues of diversity in cultural background, sexual orientation, work experiences and gender identity. Participants gained knowledge about how sex work stigma is enacted and perpetuated. They also became increasingly comfortable challenging negative judgments from others, including frontline service providers. Participants were encouraged to actively shape the training program, which fostered positive relationships and solidarity among them, as well as with colleagues in their social network and with the local sex worker organization housing the program. Resources were also mobilized within the sex worker community through skills building and knowledge acquisition. The peer education program proved successful in enhancing sex workers’ community empowerment in one urban setting by increasing their knowledge about health issues, sharing information about and building confidence in accessing services, and expanding capacity to disseminate this knowledge to others. This ‘proof of concept’ built the foundation for a long-term initiative in this setting and has promise for other jurisdictions wishing to adapt similar programs.

37 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, entry into sex work is not typically considered as an occupational choice comparable to entry into other jobs, and initiation is often thought to occur through predisposing factors such as birth defects.
Abstract: Entry into sex work is not typically considered as an occupational choice comparable to entry into other jobs. In the sex work literature, initiation is often thought to occur through predisposing ...

35 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors report on confidence in the police through the analysis of relevant data gathered from in-person interviews with sex workers from six census metropolitan areas of Canada and find that marginalized groups overwhelmingly report a lack of confidence that police will apply the law fairly.
Abstract: Confidence in the police is fundamental to citizens' willingness to report unlawful behaviour, share intelligence about crime, seek help when victimized, and generally comply with the law. Marginalized groups overwhelmingly report a lack of confidence that police will apply the law fairly. Although sex work research reports a wide range of negative experiences with the police, it is not known how common these experiences are because most research focuses solely on street-based sex workers and does not include quantitative measures. We report on confidence in the police through the analysis of relevant data gathered from in-person interviews with sex workers from six census metropolitan areas of Canada. Under the pre-2014 legal regime, our non-random sample of sex workers had lower confidence in police than estimated for other Canadians by the General Social Survey and were particularly unlikely to see police as treating sex workers fairly. Thematic analysis suggests this is primarily driven by stigma and ...

33 citations


Cited by
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31 Jan 2013
TL;DR: This is a half-day qualitative workshop designed for medical practitioners of Paediatrics Palliative Care Unit of USM Kubang Krian about stages of qualitative research, data collection techniques, data analysis and report writing.
Abstract: This is a half-day qualitative workshop designed for medical practitioners of Paediatrics Palliative Care Unit of USM Kubang Krian. Topics covered in the workshop include stages of qualitative research, data collection techniques, data analysis and report writing.

449 citations

Posted Content
TL;DR: The authors examines the social construction of sex trafficking and prostitution in the discourse of leading activists and organizations within the crusade, and concludes that the central claims are problematic, unsubstantiated, or demonstrably false.
Abstract: French Abstract: La question de la traite sexuelle est devenue de plus en plus politisee ces dernieres annees suite aux efforts d'une croisade morale influente. Cet article examine la fabrication sociale de la traite sexuelle (et plus generalement de la prostitution) dans le discours des principaux militants et des organisations membres de cette croisade, et conclut que ses allegations principales sont problematiques, non fondees ou demontrablement fausses. L'analyse met en lumiere l'adoption et l'institutionnalisation croissantes de l’ideologie de la croisade dans la politique et la pratique du gouvernement americain.English Abstract: The issue of sex trafficking has become increasingly politicized in recent years due to the efforts of an influential moral crusade. This article examines the social construction of sex trafficking (and prostitution more generally) in the discourse of leading activists and organizations within the crusade, and concludes that the central claims are problematic, unsubstantiated, or demonstrably false. The analysis documents the increasing endorsement and institutionalization of crusade ideology in U.S. government policy and practice.

439 citations

Journal ArticleDOI

347 citations