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Neon WastelandOn Love, Motherhood, and Sex Work in a Rust Belt Town$
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Susan Dewey

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520266902

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520266902.001.0001

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(p.1) One Introduction
Neon Wasteland

Susan Dewey

University of California Press

This chapter describes the lives of people who engage in sex work, through a combination of ethnographic analysis and self-representation. Sex work is always embedded in a life matrix of individual choices and responsibilities, and it is thus appropriate to consider the broader factors that influence women's perceptions of their opportunities. The chapter chronicles the lives of bar dancers and presents through their narratives, their lives, ambitions, and dreams. These narratives are representative of how people can find themselves left out of systems designed to help them even in resource-rich states. They reflect how the structural violence of poverty and, in some cases, serious gender discrimination, helped to shape the lives of individual women. Furthermore, they reveal the agency and work ethic that dancers prove in the face of a stigma that often seriously complicates their intimate and family lives.

Keywords:   sex work, ethnographic analysis, self-representation, bar dancers, structural violence

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