Sex Workers: Citizenship Status and Identity, Civic Deficits, and Exiting


  • Andrea Gaynor
  • Christopher Gifford



Sex workers have a lesser citizen status, yet the relationship between sex work and citizenship status has rarely been explicitly considered within extant research. In contrast, this article will critique England and Wales’s sex work legal and policy discourses and frameworks from the perspective of the moral, material, structural, and operational components of citizenship (Lockwood,1996). The operation of citizenship has led to the creation of policy and law (such as the Sexual Offences Act 2003) which has assigned sex workers to a “negatively privileged” group prevented from accessing a full citizenship identity (Lockwood, 1996, 538). Sex workers experience civic deficits (stigmatised, power, and fiscal) and inferior resource allocation, as their access to social citizenship rights are curtailed on moral and material grounds. Despite claims by policy and lawmakers to support and protect this group, the article proposes that the structure and operation of citizenship interplays with victim and criminal discourses to further marginalise sex workers. This is evidenced in the article by the example of exiting programmes, which reconfigure and reinforce the exclusion of sex workers while claiming to provide a supportive route out of the profession.