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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Ethics and Social Welfare

For a Special Issue on
Cooptation, Complicity, and the ‘Helping Relationship’ in Sex Work

Abstract deadline
15 December 2020

Manuscript deadline
01 December 2021

Cover image - Ethics and Social Welfare

Special Issue Editor(s)

Chrysanthi Leon, University of Delaware
[email protected]

Erin O'Brien, Queensland University of Technology
[email protected]

Corinne Schwarz, Oklahoma State University
[email protected]

Corey Shdaimah, University of Maryland School of Social Work
[email protected]

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Cooptation, Complicity, and the ‘Helping Relationship’ in Sex Work

This special issue of Ethics & Social Welfare complicates prevailing discourses and public policy surrounding sex work. We seek contributions  that will raise questions about sex workers’ personal agency, the importance of environmental and individual-level factors, and the introduction of new policy regimes, such as hybrid penal and therapeutic approaches and the impact of sex trafficking discourse. We focus on the helping relationship, broadly defined, between those involved in sex work including: the voluntary and mandated engagements between service providers and their sex-working clients; and the interpersonal care exchanged between those who sell and purchase commercial sex. We also seek to critique the helping relationship as established through the language and framing of policies that may compel encounters with representatives of the state.

We invite manuscripts to consider the following questions, though submissions are not limited to these:

  • How do evolving understandings of race, class, gender, ability, and other positionalities inform or challenge the helping relationship? (E.g., renewed attention to the racist and colonial legacies of social work systems; sex workers with disabilities and/or clients with disabilities who purchase commercial sex; faith-based intervention models in traditionally secular spaces)
  • What “-isms” or “-phobias” are embedded in or perpetuated by current modes of assistance, outreach, service provision, and commercial sexual exchange?
  • What is the role of sex worker-led movements for safety and equity--like mutual aid funds, healthcare access, harm reduction services, and policy advocacy--in resisting and transforming the current discourse?
  • What possibilities for collaboration, resistance, and social justice emerge and are constrained by different terminologies and labels? What do terms like "agency," "consent," and "choice" mean to the different actors involved in sex work?
  • How do the tensions between macro-level structural inequalities and micro-level individual experiences affect interventions and outreach efforts from criminal justice systems, non-profits, and volunteer organizations?
  • How do policies and practices manifest "on-the-ground" and impact the routine, lived experiences of individuals engaged in commercial sex? How do sex workers, trafficked persons, and migrant laborers experience criminal justice or social service-based interventions differently?
  • What is the role of academics and researchers in shaping the helping relationship? How are different ideologies used to promote protection, surveillance, regulation, and/or management of sex workers?
  • What ideological orientations, practices, and policies remain untapped in thinking through new forms of justice?

Submission Instructions

We seek both scholarly papers for peer review and contributions in first-person or other non-traditional formats. To showcase diverse voices, we seek reflective essays written by sex workers, activists, and criminal justice personnel who implement sex work policy with scholarly work. In dialogue, these voices shed light on the changing discourse, policy, and day-to-day landscape of sex work in a variety of contexts. Please direct questions or submit abstracts of 200-450 words (for both academic papers AND practice papers) on or before December 15, 2020 to Corey Shdaimah [email protected]

Abstracts should contain a short statement detailing the essential information of the submission, including what you see as your main goal or your main contribution to our understanding.

Authors of academic papers may want to look at the journal requirements before submitting abstracts

Academic papers should be no more than 8,000 words, inclusive of tables, references, figure captions, footnotes, endnotes.  Practice papers may range from 2,000-3,000 words for written papers or up to 1,000 words for other contributions (e.g. case studies, curricula, training materials, creative works).

The abstracts will be considered by January 15, 2021.

In the event that more submissions are received than can be accommodated in this Special Issue, any paper that referees and editors agree is publishable will be included in a general issue as soon as possible after the Special Issue - and may be published electronically before then.

Timeline for completion of papers:

Deadline for receipt of first draft of papers June 1, 2021

Revised pieces reviewed and edited November 1, 2021

Any additional edits requested to be received by December 1, 2021

View to publication January 2022

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