Risky business: sex work, regulation & online platforms

In this episode, we speak with Dr Nick Cowen and Dr Rachela Colosi about the impact of online platforms on the sex work industry. In society, sex work, and the sex work industry, is often stigmatised, subject to various sanctions, or illegal in many jurisdictions. 

While sex work has historically been contended on moral grounds, contemporary arguments against sex work are concerned with preventing exploitation and human trafficking. As a stigmatised and minority profession, sex workers have adopted various strategies in relation to risk and safety, which includes the use of online platforms for work purposes.

The sociological research discussed in this podcast episode draws from narratives of sex workers and evaluates how the regulation of online platforms corresponds with the interests of sex workers. 

Speaker profile(s)

Nick Cowen, a social scientist with interests in political theory, law and public policy, studied for his BA in Philosophy at University College London and also has a MPhil in political theory from the University of Oxford. He wrote his doctoral dissertation at King’s College London on the political economy of distributive justice. Nick was a Fellow at the NYU School of Law from 2016 to 2019 and is now Senior Lecturer in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Lincoln (UK). He is the author of Neoliberal Social Justice published this year by Edward Elgar.

Rachela Colosi is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Lincoln with a research interest in sexualities and sexualised bodies, this includes sexual and gender minorities, ranging from sex workers to kink practitioners. The author has previously published work exploring lap-dancing club culture, the working conditions and experiences of lap-dancers, and the policies regulating this work. Finally, as an ethnographer, she is interested in exploring different ways of developing this methodology and the positionality of the participant observer..

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In this episode:

  • What constitutes sex work?
  • How do sex workers use online platforms?
  • What factors impact sex work and sex workers?
  • What are some of the risks facing sex workers?
  • How does criminalisation and stigmatisation impact entrepreneurial development, and how does regulation affect those involved in sex work and online platforms?

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