Bridging Communities 2009
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Bridging Communities 2009



Presented at Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, Eastern/Midcontent Region Joint Conference, "The Business of Sex," June 5-7, St. Petersburg, FL.

Presented at Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, Eastern/Midcontent Region Joint Conference, "The Business of Sex," June 5-7, St. Petersburg, FL.



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    Bridging Communities 2009 Bridging Communities 2009 Presentation Transcript

    • Bridging Communities in Sex Work Research Elizabeth Anne Wood Michael Goodyear Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality St Petersburg, Florida June 5 2009
    • Elizabeth Anne Wood Sociology Nassau Community College, NY
    • Michael Goodyear Medicine Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia Research Ethics, Capital District Health Authority
    • Elizabeth
    • Michael X Chromosomally Challenged
    • Learning objectives I • Understand why sex workers distrust and lie to researchers • Understand how research and the research agenda harms sex workers • Propose ways to repair damaged trust • Understand ethical issues in sex work research and how to navigate them to produce research of high ethical and scientific quality
    • Learning objectives II • Use examples of collaborative and problematic research in order to suggest ways of improving problematic studies
    • Learning objectives III Participatory activities • Roleplay an escort negotiating with a difficult researcher • Roleplay a pro domme negotiating with a difficult client • Perform a passable pole dance. • Become a better ally or sex worker researcher If you can stay awake long enough!
    • Audience input • Your learning objectives • What disciplines/backgrounds represented? • Who has performed sex work research? • Is planning to? • Your experiences? • Sex work experience?
    • Brief overview • Why we do research • Research design • Research dissemination • Responding to research • Discussion – ethics – ways of knowing – funding dilemmas • New directions for sex work research
    • Why do we do research? The pursuit of knowledge
    • “The aim of science is not to open a door to infinite wisdom but to set a limit to infinite error” Brecht B. The Life of Galileo (Leben des Galilei) 1943 Bertolt Brecht (1898 –1956)
    • Why we do research • Academic advancement • Professional reputation • Funding agencies • Government priorities • - How does the Research Agenda construct „social problems‟
    • Issues • The Research Agenda – highly politicised* – ethical implications largely overlooked – sex workers mistrust and resist researchers “living off the backs of sex workers” *Kempner J (2008) The Chilling effect: How Do Researchers React to Controversy? PLoS Med 5(11): e222
    • Ethical principle I Respect for Persons (Autonomy) “act as to treat humanity…in every case as an end..never as a means” Kant I: Groundwork of the metaphysics of morals (1785)
    • Ethical principle II • Distributive justice – Burdens of research must be distributed fairly – Research cannot be performed on one population for the benefit of another Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics
    • Sex Workers’ Experiences with Researchers & Problematic Research
    • The Internet: A blessing and a curse I‟m a labor economist researching the escort market and got your email off the internet. I‟m hoping to collect some field evidence from current or former workers in this profession. Any feedback that you could give would be great, and will of course be kept completely confidential and used for research purposes only. 1. Do you still provide escort or companionship services? a. I‟m still active. b. No, I‟m no longer active.
    • The Internet: A blessing and a curse •Greetings, You have been randomly selected to participate in a survey by the Criminal Justice Department at (…..University). This is a study designed to understand the ways that you use technology, including computers and the Internet in the course of your profession and day to day lives. …This study will also ask questions addressing when you first began to use the Internet in the course of your job and your reasons for using websites, such as the Escort Blogs as a means to communicate with clients and other providers. …
    • Sex Worker Research on Researcher When the escort who sent us the email followed the researcher‟s link she found a research agenda that included: • computer crime, the role that technology and the Internet play in crime and deviance... the behaviour of “sexual deviants” on-line…has published research on the use of the internet by clients…. And that the researcher collaborates: • with law enforcement… to understand the technological and social elements of computer crime.
    • Big Brothel - A Survey of the off-street sex industry in London. Poppy Project, August 2008
    • Wednesday 10 September 2008 Revealed: the truth about brothels A survey into London's off-street sex industry has exposed just how widespread it is - and documents in disturbing detail the plight of the women trapped in it. Julie Bindel
    • Friday 3 October 2008 Big Brothel research 'seriously flawed' Poppy Project research into sex workers quot;was based on flawed dataquot; and quot;cannot be substantiated“ Anthea Lipsett
    • AN ACADEMIC RESPONSE TO “BIG BROTHEL” Dr Teela Sanders, University of Leeds , Jane Pitcher, Independent Researcher, Rosie Campbell, Chair, UK Network of Sex Work Projects & Loughborough University , Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon, Birbeck College, University of London , Dr Maggie O’Neill, Loughborough University, Dr Jo Phoenix, Durham University, Professor Phil Hubbard, Loughborough University, Mary Whowell, Loughborough University, Dr Nick Mai, London Metropolitan University, Dr Linda Cusick, University of the West of Scotland ,Dr Tracey Sagar, Swansea University , Kate Hardy, Queen Mary, University of London , Dr Ron Roberts, Kingston University, Jane Scoular, Strathclyde University, Professor Graham Scambler, University College London , Hilary Kinnell, Author, “Violence & Sex Work in Britain” (2008), Dr Petra Boynton, University College London , Justin Gaffney, Clinical Specialist, Sohoboyz , Dr Elizabeth Wood, Nassau Community College , Dr Michael Goodyear, Dalhousie University, Professor Ron Weitzer, George Washington University, Dr Jackie West, Bristol University, Dr Helen Self, Author “Prostitution, Women & Misuse of the Law” (2003), Dr Hera Cook, University of Birmingham, Dr Sophie Day, Goldsmiths College, London, Dr Helen Ward, Imperial College, London, Tiggey May, Institute for Criminal Policy Research, King's College, London
    • Researchers’ responsibilities Ethical principle III • Beneficence – Research must benefit the subjects of research Mill JS: Utilitarianism (1863)
    • Issues in Research Design • Participation of the community is key Nothing About Us Without Us
    • International Conference on Prostitution Los Angeles, 1997 Recommendations on Research Ethics South Australian Sex Industry Network* 1. Collaboration 2. Equality 3. Dissemination 4. Independence *Wahab and Sloan: Ethical dilemmas in sex work research. Research for Sex Work (7) 2004
    • 1. Collaboration Researchers must collaborate with the sex workers they seek to study This collaboration must include all aspects of research design, theoretical framework, methods, and dissemination As cited In: Wahab and Sloan: Ethical dilemmas in sex work research. Research for Sex Work (7) 2004
    • 2. Equality Researchers must be cognisant of issues of social, political, economic and personal power and seek to equalise power relationships with the sex workers they study This can be accomplished by acknowledging that sex workers are the experts on their own lives; researchers are the experts on research methods, and we all stand to learn from one another As cited In: Wahab and Sloan: Ethical dilemmas in sex work research. Research for Sex Work (7) 2004
    • 3. Dissemination Researchers must bring the results back to the sex workers they study to ensure that the researchers‟ interpretation of the data is accurate As cited In: Wahab and Sloan: Ethical dilemmas in sex work research. Research for Sex Work (7) 2004
    • 4. Independence Sex workers and sex work organisations are encouraged to hire their own researchers to conduct research of relevance to sex workers. Or, sex workers and sex work organisations are encouraged to obtain training or consultation that would enable them to conduct their own research. As cited In: Wahab and Sloan: Ethical dilemmas in sex work research. Research for Sex Work (7) 2004
    • Collaboration requires trust • Work with community based organizations – Learn their needs – Demonstrate your own commitment – Be willing to commit significant time and effort – (NOTE: This is not simply about entrée)
    • Collaboration requires trust • Read sex worker blogs and comment where appropriate. – By listening you learn the language and the issues – By commenting • reveal your perspective and your willingness to learn • reveal what you have to offer
    • Collaborative Models
    • Participatory Action Research WALSALL PROSTITUTION CONSULTATION RESEARCH (UK) O‟Neill and Campbell 2004
    • MAKA Project (Vancouver, BC) In the fall of 2004, the MAKA Project, a partnership with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, undertook a study to assess the health needs of the women who use the Drop-In Centre at WISH.
    • Non-malevolence (do no harm) Ethical principle IV • Anticipating potential harm (“Think harm”) – Stigmatisation – Outing – Use of research for other purposes (Utilitarianism)
    • Taxonomy – Avoiding conflation • Highly stratified activity • Overlapping categories • Generalisations • Terminology e.g. Sex Worker – Definitions – Categories – Identity
    • • Using an umbrella term to refer to a subcategory • Conflating iv drug use and sex work -Unintended results of research : McInnes et al 2009
    • HIV/AIDS in Vancouver, British Columbia: a growing epidemic McInnes CW, Druyts E, Harvard SS, Gilbert M, Tyndall MW, Lima VD, Wood E, Montaner JS, Hogg RS. Harm Reduct J. 2009 Mar 5;6:5 The study referred to in previous alarming headline – the focus was NOT sex work - see also: Readers‟ Comments, for example of responding to potentially misleading research
    • Essentialism (Ontology) • Confusing behaviour with identity – “I am not my job” • Evidence vs Belief • Defining subject of research
    • Barriers to research How do barriers shape nature of research? • Funding • Research ethics oversight – Confidentiality – Safety – Consent – Bringing issues to IRBs – Alternative models: community-academic partnership (eg CARAS) • Attacks on researchers
    • Dissemination • Who owns the data? • Community rights to access – Data – Interpretation – Communication strategy • Whose interests? – Subjects – Broader community Necessary a priori design elements, addressed by collaborative model
    • Media • Media training – Journalistic ethics – Media agenda – Soundbites – Avoiding nuance – Clear message – Getting feedback
    • Learning from Sex Workers: Media Training Sex Work Awareness designed a media training workshop, Speak Up!, for sex workers and has made those materials available online
    • Responsiveness Researchers build trust when they actively respond to other people‟s research: • Positioning studies and reports • Critical appraisal • Addressing implications for community • Responding at multiple levels: academic, mainstream press, blogs/websites, social media.
    • Sex In The Public Square post about the feminist academic response to Big Brothel
    • Questions for Discussion I • Researchers agenda & responsibilities • Community agenda & responsibilities • Considerations • Beneficence • Engagement • Collaboration
    • Questions for Discussion II • Managing conflicting values – Duty to subjects v society – Researchers v Subjects interests – Applied v Theoretical research – Concept of expert (researcher, subject)
    • Questions for Discussion III • Epistemology (Ways of Knowing) – Theoretical, Empirical, Experiential – Privileging of positions – Blurring of occupations: • Sex worker researchers • Degrees of outness, subjectivity
    • Questions for Discussion IV • Funding and the agenda – Whose responsibility to shift priorities – Resistance – Organisation • Political agenda – Lessons from infiltration of State and Justice Departments – eg PEPFAR – Working with the new Administration
    • Questions for Discussion V • Framing and re-framing the agenda – Health – Women and Girls – Rights and Discrimination • Human, Civil, Women, Labour – Constitutionality – Sexual expression – Global responsibilities
    • Questions for Discussion VI • Framing and reframing the agenda cont‟d – Crime, Violence • Prohibition • War on Drugs
    • New Directions for Research I • Balancing Micro, Meso and Macro factors – Political, Social and Economic factors • Emphasising structural factors • Push and Pull drivers • Social citizenship and responsibilisation – Social inclusion and exclusion
    • New Directions for Research II • Organisation factors – Moral panic and moral crusades • Holistic examination of sex work in relation to sexuality and commerce – Balanced examination of actors and sectors – How controls are applied discriminately
    • New Directions for Research III • Societal benefits – Economic – Sexual needs of specific groups – Health promotion – Therapists • Vulnerability and the disadvantaged – Societal effects of discrimination against groups
    • Summary I • Historically sex work research has made a number of false steps through failure to engage the sex work community • Collaborative research provides opportunities to produce more meaningful results that benefit both sex workers and society
    • Summary II • Principles of Good Sex Work Research – To benefit sex workers – To influence the research agenda – To engage the sex work community – To ensure responsible collaborative dissemination of results – To apply results constructively – To critically respond to studies and reports that are harmful , misrepresented or misleading
    • Additional resources Bound not Gagged, the blog for Desiree Alliance Community Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities (CARAS) Desiree Alliance
    • Additional Resources II Michael Goodyear‟s sex work research resource page Research for Sex Work, an annual journal
    • Contact Information • Elizabeth Anne Wood – – • Michael Goodyear – –