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The working lives of a sample of Sydney prostitutes in the s are scrutinised and compared to earlier studies of Sydney prostitutes, and sex workers in America. Descriptions of workplaces and problems that arise, the nature of sex work, and the men in the business are offered for analysis, and the reasons why prostitutes enter the business are examined.
The more positive features of the work are compared with the negative features. In the last Chapter the study was concerned with the social backgrounds of prostitutes. In this Chapter we will concentrate on the other part of prostitutes' lives: their working conditions. In spite of the great amount of media "exposure" and common perceptions of prostitutes at work, very little is known publicly about this side of their lives. Even customers rarely manage a realistic appraisal because their perceptions are too often screened through a bias of sexual fantasies.
Few researchers have been able to study this aspect thoroughly because of the sex industry's closed ranks against outsiders. Most researchers, though, have shown greater interest in causal factors leading to a woman's entrance into prostitution than in the actual working conditions. In recent years, however, a number of symbolic interactionist studies have been "breaking the silence", especially where there has been a heavy dependence on in-depth interviews, enabling prostitutes to speak out and express their work in their terms.
Thus, a profile of their working conditions is becoming more widely known. Thus, William Isaac Thomas , the renowned "father of symbolic interactionism", in emphasised the adaptability of his subjects, who could move easily from their sexual working life to a socially conventional life. Claude Jaget , a French journalist writing about the "prostitutes strike" in , selected interview subjects for their anger and frustration in the face of political and social insensitivity.
Kate Millet , the feminist literary scholar, used her interview material to stress the psychological effects of sex work and criminalisation on her subjects.