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date: 16 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Sex work has long been of interest to a variety of fields, among them anthropology, sociology, public health, and feminist theory, to name but a few. However, with very few exceptions, sociolinguistics seems to have ignored the fact that commercial sex, as an intersubjective business transaction, is primarily negotiated in embodied linguistic interaction. By reviewing publications in distinct social scientific areas that directly or indirectly discuss the role of language in the sex industry, this chapter critically assesses the analytical affordances and methodological challenges for a sociolinguistics of sex work. It does so by discussing the “tricks” played by sex work, as a power-infused context of language use in which issues of agency (or lack thereof) are paramount, on sociolinguistic theory and methods. The chapter concludes that the study of language in commercial sex venues is sociolinguistically promising and epistemologically timely.

Keywords: sex work, sociolinguistics, language, embodiment, power, agency, linguistic interaction

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