Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Sociology (Applied), PhD

Committee Chair

Schroeder, Ryan D.

Author's Keywords

Prostitution; Condoms; Sexual health; Rational choice; Patriarchal bargaining; Stigma


Condom use--Psychological aspects; Condom use--Social aspects; Prostitutes--Psychology


High-risk sexual activity involved in prostitution is a criminal justice and public health issue heightened by the potential transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as a result of engaging in certain unprotected sex acts. This constitutes a significant health problem suitable for discourse on social policy. The work adds to the extant prostitution literature by providing an in-depth qualitative examination of female prostitutes resulting in the proposal of a new theoretical framework, the whore paradox. The theory provides explanatory insight into the sexual health decisions of prostitutes and has potential applications to other deviant and risk-taking populations. Policy implications include augmenting subsidized drug rehabilitation and harm reduction programs as well as establishing diversion options for prostitution charges that incorporate mandatory sex education programs. The dissertation is divided into five chapters covering a discussion of the problem, applicable theories, the methods used in data collection, findings, and discussion. Chapter One reviews the extant literature regarding sexually transmitted infections, protective behavior, and prostitution. Chapter Two introduces the applicable theoretical frameworks including Coleman’s Rational Choice Model, Deviance theories, and Patriarchal Bargains. Chapter Three provides an explanation of and rationale for the data collection methods employed. Chapter Four presents the findings thematically, using the narratives of the participants to tell the story. Finally, Chapter Five is a consideration of the findings as they relate to the generation of a new theory, the whore paradox, which aims to explain the sexual health decisions made by female sex workers within the context of a gendered society that labels their occupation as deviant.

Included in

Sociology Commons