MARKET MORALITIES IN THE FIELD OF COMMERCIAL SEX

The website ‘Punternet’ contains customer service reviews (‘field reports’) of commercial sex encounters in the UK's indoor sex market. Treating Punternet as a calculative device shows how ordinary understandings of morality underpin consumer markets, as field reports qualify commercial sex to produce understandings of ‘good value’. The varied, messy and sometimes contradictory understandings of value, values, worth and goodness that are present in the calculative device of Punternet reveal the complex ways in which market actions are made moral by consumers. ‘Value’ in the market for sex is a moral judgement made by male authors whose understandings of themselves as deserving customers derives from the stories they tell of good and bad service providers.

Although the moral status of prostitution is contested by many, Punternet reports lay claim to it being a legitimate consumer activity, with customers themselves vulnerable to being denied ‘value for money’. The good worker is seen as providing value for money by being professional, committed to pleasing the customer and appearing to enjoy her job.

Year of publication: 
2012
Author: 
Lynne Pettinger*