This study is an empirical response to the scholarly debate regarding sex work and sex worker empowerment. It drew on job satisfaction literature to derive a theoretical model of pathways for job satisfaction in sex work. It tested this model with data from 96 migrant sex workers from China. It used Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) to examine the conjunctive pathways among workers who reported that they were satisfied with their vocation. Of the 96 women interviewed, 12 experienced job satisfaction. QCA identified three antecedent conditions as necessary for producing job satisfaction and two additional conditions, either one of which was also necessary. Job satisfaction required: (1) full awareness of the nature of their work prior to starting, (2) perceived agency, and (3) enjoyment of earnings, beyond meeting survival needs. It also required at least one of two additional antecedents: perceiving workplace autonomy or having a favorable workplace environment. This study demonstrates that, while genuine job satisfaction may be relatively rare for sex workers, there are pathways that make it possible.
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“Going down to the sea” is a common euphemism for commercial sex work among Chinese sex workers.
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Special thanks to Ko-lin Chin, Mercer Sullivan, and Bill McCarthy for their guidance throughout this project. The original study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of Rutgers University on December 15, 2006. The associated protocol number is #07-120R, and the protocol title is “A Case Study of Human Trafficking: The Transnational Movement of Chinese Women for Sex Work.” James O. Finckenauer is the PI and Ko-lin Chin is the Co-PI. Questions about the original study can be directed to Ko-lin Chin: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Badgett, K. Antecedents of Job Satisfaction for Migrant Chinese Sex Workers. Arch Sex Behav 52, 443–457 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-022-02462-w
- Sex work
- Job satisfaction
- Qualitative comparative analysis