Thailand's Sex Entertainment: Alienated Labor and the Construction of Intimacy

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Thailand's Sex Entertainment : Alienated Labor and the Construction of Intimacy. / Lemberger, Petra; Waters, Tony.

In: Social Sciences, Vol. 11, No. 11, 524, 16.11.2022.

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@article{ba483b6e73f64431871ec15c67fc21f4,
title = "Thailand's Sex Entertainment: Alienated Labor and the Construction of Intimacy",
abstract = "Promising research from Thailand already highlights women in the sexual entertainment industry as being active participants in both intimate relationships and commercial transactions simultaneously. Notably, they are neither victims nor alienated laborers, as some activist narratives assert. Women working in Thailand{\textquoteright}s sex entertainment industry consistently adapt working cultures to modernity{\textquoteright}s demand to reduce sex to a commercial transaction while often seeking emotional engagement. One result is that new forms of intimacy emerged, taking on new cultural meanings. The profoundly felt need to care for and take care of someone else [dulae (Thai: ดูแล)], seen as a form of “intimacy”, is, in fact, deeply rooted in the Thai social context. We reframe the literature about sex work in Thailand by assuming that intimacy is key to understanding how “sex work” arose and is sustained there. Focusing on intimacy distances research about sex work away from western assumptions about the commodification and alienation of labor. This gives a more holistic understanding of the complexity of overlapping and intersecting dimensions of the work women perform in sex entertainment. “Intimacy” ties together the issues of money, labor, and a need to care for someone and be taken care of. This thread links women with their customers, families, and themselves.",
keywords = "Thailand, sex entertainment, intimacy, emotional labor, care, Sociology",
author = "Petra Lemberger and Tony Waters",
note = "Funding Information: “A private, non-profit international non-governmental organization, The Asia Foundation (“TAF”) was established in the year 1954 in Thailand to advance the mutual interests of the United States and countries in the Asia-Pacific region. At that time, much of its funding was routed via the CIA, with the military and political interests of the United States in mind. The Asia Foundation receives annual appropriations from the U.S. Congress and is also financially supported with contributions from corporations, foundations, individuals, and governmental organizations in the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia.” (). Publisher Copyright: {\textcopyright} 2022 by the authors.",
year = "2022",
month = nov,
day = "16",
doi = "10.3390/socsci11110524",
language = "English",
volume = "11",
journal = "Social Sciences",
issn = "2076-0760",
publisher = "MDPI AG",
number = "11",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Thailand's Sex Entertainment

T2 - Alienated Labor and the Construction of Intimacy

AU - Lemberger, Petra

AU - Waters, Tony

N1 - Funding Information: “A private, non-profit international non-governmental organization, The Asia Foundation (“TAF”) was established in the year 1954 in Thailand to advance the mutual interests of the United States and countries in the Asia-Pacific region. At that time, much of its funding was routed via the CIA, with the military and political interests of the United States in mind. The Asia Foundation receives annual appropriations from the U.S. Congress and is also financially supported with contributions from corporations, foundations, individuals, and governmental organizations in the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia.” (). Publisher Copyright: © 2022 by the authors.

PY - 2022/11/16

Y1 - 2022/11/16

N2 - Promising research from Thailand already highlights women in the sexual entertainment industry as being active participants in both intimate relationships and commercial transactions simultaneously. Notably, they are neither victims nor alienated laborers, as some activist narratives assert. Women working in Thailand’s sex entertainment industry consistently adapt working cultures to modernity’s demand to reduce sex to a commercial transaction while often seeking emotional engagement. One result is that new forms of intimacy emerged, taking on new cultural meanings. The profoundly felt need to care for and take care of someone else [dulae (Thai: ดูแล)], seen as a form of “intimacy”, is, in fact, deeply rooted in the Thai social context. We reframe the literature about sex work in Thailand by assuming that intimacy is key to understanding how “sex work” arose and is sustained there. Focusing on intimacy distances research about sex work away from western assumptions about the commodification and alienation of labor. This gives a more holistic understanding of the complexity of overlapping and intersecting dimensions of the work women perform in sex entertainment. “Intimacy” ties together the issues of money, labor, and a need to care for someone and be taken care of. This thread links women with their customers, families, and themselves.

AB - Promising research from Thailand already highlights women in the sexual entertainment industry as being active participants in both intimate relationships and commercial transactions simultaneously. Notably, they are neither victims nor alienated laborers, as some activist narratives assert. Women working in Thailand’s sex entertainment industry consistently adapt working cultures to modernity’s demand to reduce sex to a commercial transaction while often seeking emotional engagement. One result is that new forms of intimacy emerged, taking on new cultural meanings. The profoundly felt need to care for and take care of someone else [dulae (Thai: ดูแล)], seen as a form of “intimacy”, is, in fact, deeply rooted in the Thai social context. We reframe the literature about sex work in Thailand by assuming that intimacy is key to understanding how “sex work” arose and is sustained there. Focusing on intimacy distances research about sex work away from western assumptions about the commodification and alienation of labor. This gives a more holistic understanding of the complexity of overlapping and intersecting dimensions of the work women perform in sex entertainment. “Intimacy” ties together the issues of money, labor, and a need to care for someone and be taken care of. This thread links women with their customers, families, and themselves.

KW - Thailand

KW - sex entertainment

KW - intimacy

KW - emotional labor

KW - care

KW - Sociology

UR - https://www.mendeley.com/catalogue/4485668c-6edc-3370-9e0a-ccf33c0c48a6/

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85149550418&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.3390/socsci11110524

DO - 10.3390/socsci11110524

M3 - Journal articles

VL - 11

JO - Social Sciences

JF - Social Sciences

SN - 2076-0760

IS - 11

M1 - 524

ER -

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