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date: 10 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines some of the existing definitional problems in qualifying and tapping sex workers in India. Drawing on research notes and data from the First Pan-India Survey of Sex Workers, it discusses the diversity of practices under “sex work” and highlights multiple overlaps across the variables both in sites and in occupational identities, which can lead to confounding results. Based on the results, the chapter calls for more nuanced typologies addressing grassroots operational realities, particularly where sex work interacts with other forms of informal labor. It argues that such definitional clarity would be essential for constructing the universe of sex workers during surveys and for more balanced representations. It also looks at the implications of incorporating heterogeneity into analyzing sex markets for social-scientific research both in terms of developing useful models (e.g., monopolistic competition) and in regard to sample selection.

Keywords: definitional problems, sex workers, India, sex work, occupational identities, informal labor, heterogeneity, sex markets, social-scientific research, sample selection

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