In San Francisco, the St. James Infirmary (SJI) and the California Prostitutes Education Project (CAL-PEP) provide free, nonjudgmental medical care, counseling, and other health and social services by and for sex workers—a radical political commitment at odds with government policies that criminalize prostitution. To maintain and expand these much-needed services and to qualify for funding from state, federal, and local authorities, such organizations must comply with federal and state regulations for nonprofits. In Sex Work Politics, Samantha Majic investigates the way nonprofit organizations negotiate their governmental obligations while maintaining their commitment to outreach and advocacy for sex workers' rights as well as broader sociopolitical change.
Drawing on multimethod qualitative research, Majic outlines the strategies that CAL-PEP and SJI employ to balance the conflicting demands of service and advocacy, which include treating sex work as labor with legitimate occupational health and safety concerns, empowering their clients with civic skills to advance their political commitments outside the nonprofit organization, and conducting and publishing research and analysis to inform the public and policymakers of their constituents' needs. Challenging the assumption that activists must "sell out" and abandon radical politics to manage formal organizations, Majic comes to the surprising conclusion that it is indeed possible to maintain effective advocacy and key social movement values, beliefs, and practices, even while partnering with government agencies. Sex Work Politics significantly contributes to studies of transformational politics with its nuanced portrait of nonprofits as centers capable of sustaining political and social change.
List of Abbreviations
Chapter 1. Institutional Negotiation: Sex Workers and the Process of Resistance Maintenance
Chapter 2. Oppositional Implementation
Chapter 3. Community Engagement
Chapter 4. Claims-Making Activities
Chapter 5. Lessons Learned: Social-Movement Evolution and the Nonprofit Sector
Appendix. A Note on Methods
"An excellent, important book. Samantha Majic's detailed community research will transform our views of sex workers as well as our understanding of the potential for nonprofit community organizations and social movements to achieve lasting political change."—Steven Rathgeb Smith, Executive Director of the American Political Science Association
"Majic has written an influential book, one that challenges conventional views of government-funded nonprofit organizations as well as those individuals who work in the sex industry. . . . Not only has [Majic] expanded our views of politically active human service nonprofits, but through a use of well-placed key informant quotes and detailed participation observation field notes, she has told a humanizing story that will likely transform the readers' view of sex workers from an apolitical and reckless population to dedicated and passionate nonprofit human service employees."—Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
"A much needed contribution to studies of sex work politics that moves beyond tired recapitulations of ideological 'sex wars' over pornography and prostitution. . . . As a corrective, this book examines how social movements struggle to produce lasting social change as they become formalized and begin to interact with mainstream institutions, especially the State."—Gender and Society