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Ph.D Thesis

University of Stirling

Title of Thesis: Precarious labour and disposable bodies: The effects of cultural and economic change upon sexualised labour in lap-dancing venues in Scotland.

I decided to focus on the working environments in lap-dancing clubs after my policy focussed MSc project which focussed on policy change and the effect this had on working strategies devised by female sex workers in Aberdeen.

Lap-dancing was under-researched in Scotland at the time and I was quite keen to shed new light on another aspect of the sex industry. After reading the report published in 2006 by the then Scottish Executive and noting the concerns raised,

I decided to focus my Ph.D study on providing an up-to-date snapshot of working conditions in the lap-dance industry in Scotland. The study utilised in-depth, semi-structured interviews with dancers.

The inclusion of women’s voices led to the conclusion that wider cultural and economic changes are impacting negatively upon working experiences in venues by adversely altering the dynamics of supply and demand. This means power is felt to be partially shifting from workers to owners, and to a lesser extent, customers.

Participants suggest that venues have changed from being enjoyable working environments where money could be made relatively easily to ones where the work embodies the characteristic of precarious labour where competition is rife, projected income is far less certain and women must increasingly perform unpaid work.

The thesis uses a socialist feminist analysis to understand and explain these changes, and suggests that simply improving working conditions for women may prove ineffective in the facilitation of a more satisfactory workplace, due to the overriding desire for profit held by both dancers and owners in an industry which has become less financially lucrative.

Ultimately, the thesis reveals and explains how shifts outside the lap-dancing venues have affected dancers negatively in different ways, affecting relationships inside the venue, and the actual experience of carrying out the labour.

This thesis argues that these shifts have been assisted by the provision of State policy that fails to recognise lap dancing as a form of labour and is not concerned with dancers safety at work.

If you would like more information on my thesis, you are welcome to contact me.