Home Institution

Fordham University

Publication Date

Spring 2011

Program Name

Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender


This research investigates how working conditions affect the dramaturgical presentation of self for sex workers in Amsterdam. Seven participants were interviewed in person; three were female window sex workers and four were male brothel sex workers. The theoretical perspective was inspired by sociologists Erving Goffman and Arlie Hochschild. The findings were discussed through the subcategories on the preparation for work/use of costume and props, feelings on competition and co-workers, feelings on work and success, the emotional labour of client interaction, and feelings on discrimination or other negative aspects of the job. This research concludes that emotional labour of client interactions is one of the main dramaturgical stages for a sex worker’s presentation of self. Female sex workers often emphasized a passion for the job unlike the male sex workers interviewed who valued compensation for their work. But the male sex workers expressed an attraction to exploring their sexuality through the context of sex work. Many suffered from issues surrounding the maintenance of a dual identity unlike the female sex workers interviewed, who did not have a choice in disclosing their identity as a sex worker because of the public nature of their work. In conclusion, the sample size is incredibly small and cannot be used to make definitive assumptions about the dramaturgical presentation of self for sex workers as affected by various working conditions but in the future, this topic could be further explored with a larger sample.


Gender and Sexuality | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Social Psychology and Interaction | Sociology