'Looking back, I don't quite recognise myself': Narratives of the past in prostitution

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This paper uses George Herbert Mead’s theory on time and the self in an analysis of qualitative interviews with sex sellers in Denmark. We show how exit from prostitution is associated with a gradual change of participants’ conceptions of commercial sex, bringing them in alignment with a ‘social problems’ approach to prostitution. From being conceptualised as a predominantly positive phenomenon, associated with ‘easy money’, power/self-affirmation and thrill, prostitution becomes a predominantly negative phenomenon, associated with ‘hard-to-earn-money’, subordination and repulsion. When transforming their conceptions of commercial sex, participants take over the view on prostitution that is dominant in Danish society – a view that defines commercial sex as inherently problematic and sex sellers as a ‘vulnerable group’ in need of rescue.
StatusE-pub ahead of print - 11 maj 2023

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