This is the first detailed account of the economic lives of women drug users. It is located at the boundaries of three disciplines - criminology, anthropology, and sociology - and based on three years of in-depth ethnographic fieldwork in New York City. Set in a neighbourhood plagued by drug use and AIDS, the book reveals the economic lives of a group of women whose options have been severely circumscribed, not only by drug use, but also by poverty, racism, violence, and enduring marginality. It is a fascinating account, with Maher drawing extensively on the women's own words, describing how structures and relations of gender, race and class, are articulated by divisions of labour in the street-level drug economy. The book challenges the impoverished set of characterizations which dominate the literature, critiquing both feminist and non-feminist representations that view women lawbreakers as driven by forces beyond their control. It graphically illustrates the role of the drug economy as a site of cultural reproduction by drawing attention to the specific practices by which gender and race dimensions of inequality are constituted and contested in street-level drug markets.
This is a rich, nuanced, and theoretically sophisticated study of "crime as work" which will be compelling reading for all those interested in the ways in which women deal with the intersection of gender, race, and work.
`This book is far more than a study of women, drugs and the selling of sex. To be sure, it is about the themes of the books subtitle and is as sophisticated an exploration of these and the relevant literature one could wish for. But the book is also a careful and honest ethnography that embraces a good deal more. At a time when good examples of such studies have been so rare, it is a text to also add to reading lists on methodology and gender
Professor Nigel South, University of Essex in British Journal of Sociology
`A landmark work in social study ... a rich mix of field study, sociological scholarship and theoretical analysis .. also a portrait of prohibition drug policy in action ... an unusual blend of savvy street ethnographer and rigourous scholar ... Her ability to so fully recognize and compassionately document the form and meaning of these women's lives is a tribute to the integrity of her methods.'
Professor Ernest Drucker, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx NY in Addiction
`among the most important contemporary feminist scholarship in criminology ... review can only begin to suggest the contributions of Sexed Work ...excellent scholarship, deserving a wide readership.'
Professor Jody Miller in Theoretical Criminology
`it is part of her genius as a researcher and writer that she makes these women live for the reader and earns them sympathy and respecr ... The writing is excellent - moving, yetsurprisingly restrained ... Her questions of HIV reverberate in one's mind long after the book has been closed ... desrves a larger audience than just those who are specialists in the field.'
Professor David Bradford, Sexual Health Physician in Drug and Alcohol Review
`an important contribution to the literature and will improve any reader's understanding of the inner workings of the drug world.'
Professor Christopher Krebs, Florida State University in Journal of Drug Issues
"A New addition to the Clarendon Studies in Criminology, Lisa Maher's 'Sexed Work' provides a much-needed feminist contribution to this prestigious series...Maher's book is truly original. While this study is a specific one, of a historically bounded period, in the particular urban context of Brooklyn, it contains many points of interest for scholars working in fields unrelated to drug use. This book represents a significant contribution to criminology
scholarship, which should be considered as a model for future feminist research."
1: Readings of Victimization and Volition
2: Taking it on the Street
3: Gender, Work, and Informalization
4: A Reserve Army: Women and the Drug Market
5: Jobs for the Boyz: Street Hustles
6: A Hard Road to Ho: Sexwork
7: Intersectionalities: Gender, Race and Class
8: The Reproduction of Inequalities
Appendix: On Reflexivity, Reciprocity, and Ethnographic Research