The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Global Security Studies

Living Edition
| Editors: Scott Romaniuk, Manish Thapa, Péter Marton


  • Júlia PalikEmail author
Living reference work entry


Prostitution refers to the exchange of sexual acts for different forms of payment (money, drugs, or occasionally other goods). Sex work remains a controversial topic. It can be examined through historical, ideological, cultural, sociological, legal, and economic lenses. Prostitution entails a myriad of actors, such as the sex workers themselves, their spouses, clients, managers, traffickers, and law enforcement (and other) authorities, all of them potentially constituting a distinct field of research. Prostitution is also a global phenomenon, conducted in many different forms and in diverse cultural contexts, strongly influenced by a globalized economy and the global movement of people.

Gathering data on the sex industry is an especially challenging task (Frances 2005). There are only a few countries in which the sex industry is legalized and where the population involved in this economic activity can be reached and/or is willing to participate in surveys and interviews....


Sex industry Prostitution Mental health Physical health Public health 
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Further Readings

  1. Garcia, R. M., Herrma van Voss, L., & van Nederveen Meerkerk, E. (Eds.). (2017). Selling sex in the city: A global history of prostitution 1600s–2000s (Studies in global social history) (Vol. 31). Leiden/Boston: Brill.Google Scholar
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  3. Marcus, A., Horning, A., Curtis, R., Sanson, J., & Thompson, E. (2014). Conflict and agency among sex workers and pimps: A closer look at domestic minor sex trafficking. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 653(1), 225–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Outshoorn, J. (Ed.). (2004). The politics of prostitution: Women’s movements, democratic states and the globalisation of sex commerce. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Spector, J. (Ed.). (2006). Prostitution and pornography: Philosophical debate about the sex industry. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO)Corvinus University of BudapestOsloNorway