Listening to the Language of Sex Workers: An Analysis of Street Sex Worker Representations and Their Effects on Sex Workers and Society
AuthorMcCracken, Jill Linnette
Keywordsrhetorical and ideological analysis
Committee ChairMcAllister, Ken
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation argues that the material conditions of many street sex workers--the physical environments they live in and their effects on the workers' bodies, identities, and spirits--are represented, reproduced, and entrenched in the language surrounding their work. My research is an ethnographic case study of a local system that can be extrapolated to other subcultures and the construction of identities, while situating sex work and the industry as rhetorical constructions. My research offers an example of how an examination of the signs and symbols that comprise "material conditions" can be rhetorically analyzed in order to better understand how goals, agendas, interests, and ideologies are represented and implemented through language.Located central to my analysis are the street sex workers' voices. I use an ideological rhetorical analysis, or rhetorically--the study of how language shapes and is shaped by cultures, institutions, and the individuals within them, and ideologically--the identification and examination of the underlying assumptions of communicative interactions. I delineate how these material conditions are reproduced and, at times, subverted, and I offer an outline for modifying the discourse used in policy in ways that are more empowering and authentic to sex workers' lives.Policy makers, activists, and academics, among others, wrestle with complicated issues to analyze and write laws and policies and to design social services. Discourse is always at the center of these struggles. Because my study investigates the language of policy-making and the people who forge it, it has implications for ethics and policy in relation to gender studies, cultural studies, and ethnographic research.Examining the rhetorical constructions and interactions and their related effects on policy elucidates the discursive complexity that exists in meaning-making systems. This analysis also offers an explanation of how constructions can be made differently in order to achieve representations that are generated by the marginalized populations themselves, while placing responsibility for this marginalization on the society in which these people live.
Degree ProgramRhetoric, Composition & the Teaching of English