ON THE STROLL: FREE AGENTS AND BONDED LABOUR IN THE STREET PROSTITUTION INDUSTRY
Robertson, Margaret Susan
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This study analyzes the concept of alienated labour in the practice of street prostitution in Canada's prairie region and explores the relationship between profit-making relations in street prostitution and the exploitation of street prostitutes in this region. It begins with a brief introduction to the themes of social control that dominate within the Sociology of Prostitution and a discussion of the sources and limitations of data employed. The basic proposition that is drawn from this discussion is that the exploitation of street prostitutes is secured in the organization of the labour process of street prostitution. The review of relevant literature is organized around the basic themes of supply, demand and profit.. This organizational scheme allows the evaluation and critique of the loose application of economic concepts to the causal analysis of prostitution. It concludes with the finding that prostitution is the expression of a profit-making relation and establishes a basis for the analysis of the appropriation of labour within profit-making relations. In light of the focus on the regulation of working activity in economic organization, Marx's theory and method of historical materialism is identified as a fruitful conceptual framework for the analysis of this relation. The discussion of subjective interpretations of Marx's theory of alienation is followed by a detailed discussion of the ontological continuity and epistemological focusing of Marx's intellectual outlook. This leads into an explication of Marx's theory of alienation. A detailed description of the street prostitution commodity market and the street prostitution industry is constructed around the producer's relation to the product and activity of labour in the circulation and production of commodified intimacy. This is followed by a specific analysis of the concept of alienated labour as it is expressed in the social relations of production of the street prostitution industry. The conclusion that is reached is that two forms of alienated labour can be identified within the street prostitution industry in the Canadian prairie region. As free agents, the working activity of prostitutes is subject to regulation by the market and overall structure of the street prostitution industry, and the appropriation of labour is expressed in circulation. As bonded labour the working activity of prostitutes is subject to regulation by the social relations of production that are established between male owners and female workers. As such, the appropriation of labour is accomplished through relations of dependency and domination that are expressed in the production of commodified intimacy and the exploitation of the prostitute is stripped of any appearance of freedom.