The sex work research field has expanded significantly in recent years, and a myriad of studies have highlighted diverse forms of injustice that sex workers endure. Sex workers are a marginalised and criminalised population and thus researchers have an ethical responsibility to undertake research that challenges existing social conditions and can help support sex worker-led campaigns for change. But what does ‘making a difference’ mean in the context of sex work research and what factors may constrain the extent to which this can be achieved? In this chapter, I explore the promise and pitfalls of undertaking politically engaged, activist research on sex work. I do so by reflecting on my experience as a researcher in the New Zealand context. The aim of this chapter is to unpack the challenges of undertaking research for social change and to explore the possibilities for strengthening the impact of research in this ideologically charged area.
Armstrong, L. (2023), "Making a Difference? Reflections on Sex Work, Activism, and Research for Social Change", Canning, V., Martin, G. and Tombs, S. (Ed.) The Emerald International Handbook of Activist Criminology (Emerald Studies in Activist Criminology), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 381-390. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-80262-199-020231025
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