Working at the Bar: Sex Work and Health Communication in Thailand

Working at the Bar: Sex Work and Health Communication in Thailand

Working at the Bar: Sex Work and Health Communication in Thailand

Working at the Bar: Sex Work and Health Communication in Thailand

Synopsis

Commercial sex--prostitution--is the occupation of a significant portion of the women of the world, providing economic support for millions of people and their families. Working at the Bar is the first-ever, long-term, longitudinal, in-depth study of a large sex work industry--and Thailand, the most prominent nation in the rapidly growing sex tourism industry, makes for an excellent case study. While previous works have provided brief glimpses of one group of workers studied from a particular point of view, author Thomas Steinfatt examines considerations of health, behavior, economics, morality, religion, and worker safety. The result of data gathered from thousands of workers and customers in Thailand over a period of twelve years, Working at the Bar covers all aspects of an industry that, although it does not conform to various Western ideals, is nevertheless enormously significant.

Excerpt

In 1988, I began a long-term study of bars oriented toward Western foreigners in Thailand and their female sex workers. The study was conducted in two phases: Phase I from 1988 to 1992 as the AIDS epidemic was taking shape in Thailand, and Phase II from 1993 to 1999 as that epidemic matured. The overall intent of this work was to provide a rich contextual background for understanding the people who work in bars and, to a lesser extent, the people who manage and own them and the customers who support them. It is a study of bar workers, not of Thai women in general. The results obtained in early years with bar workers led to more unanswered questions each time. Were the results restricted to the year in which they were obtained? What would happen in a long-term study that could consider the flow of workers into and out of the job? How would data on customers, managers, and owners affect the interpretation of results?

Early portions of the Phase I data were presented in Bangkok in 1990 at the International Congress on AIDS: AIDS, A New Global Challenge: Impacts on Developing Countries (Steinfatt, 1990), where my presence was sponsored by the Chulabhorn Research Institute. Portions of the data have been presented at conventions of the National Communication Association, Southern Communication Association, and Western Communication Association in the United States but have not been otherwise published.

Observations for the study were collected over a 12-year period from over 4,000 workers between 1988 and 1999. Interview data were obtained from a total of 2,445 persons, and in-depth interviews were conducted with 1,597 of them. Of these in-depth interviews, 704 were with active workers, 66 with

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.