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"Outlaw Poverty Not Prostitutes": Sex Workers' Responses to Poverty Management in San Francisco


This dissertation draws on interviews and ethnography with service providers, local officials and currently and formerly homeless sex workers to evaluate the effects of three different governmental responses to poverty: Criminalization, medicalization, and harm reduction. In order to understand the relationship between poverty management policies and economic insecurity, I compare my participants’ experiences with law enforcement and social service agencies. Focusing on one informal occupational group demonstrates how and why poor people with similar income strategies experience different interventions. My dissertation research contributes to a broader understanding of how law enforcement and service agencies construct race and gender, and develops a theory of individualizing and structurally transformative responses to poverty.

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