Sy Adler

Date of Award

Spring 5-20-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies

Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 269 pages)


Sex-oriented businesses -- Oregon -- Portland, Urban Land use -- Oregon -- Portland, Stripteasers -- Employment -- Health and hygiene -- Oregon -- Portland, Industrial hygiene -- Oregon -- Portland, NIMBY syndrome -- Oregon -- Portland




A lack of land use controls on sexually oriented businesses contributes to the unique configuration of Portland, Oregon's strip clubs: nearly fifty clubs are distributed throughout the city's neighborhoods. Considered a locally unwanted land use (LULU) by many, these strip clubs are regulated by a variety of formal and informal social processes in the absence of zoning. This qualitative study explores drivers and constraints shaping the spatial configuration of Portland's strip club industry as well as influences on land use conflict at strip club sites and working conditions for women who work as exotic dancers in the clubs. Data collection entailed review of documents (newspaper articles, legal and administrative decisions and records, and ballot measure pro/con statements); site observations; and in-person interviews with exotic dancers, strip club owners and managers, public employees who deal with strip clubs in their line of work, and people who live and work near strip clubs (n=43). Analysis follows Clarke's (2005) situational analysis methods. The study finds that strip clubs are not necessarily incompatible with residential locations and that such locations can confer benefits to dancers. The normalization of strip clubs in Portland decreases the place stigma associated with strip clubs but has a lesser impact on the person stigma of being an exotic dancer. With regard to land use conflict, the study finds that tolerance of sexual commerce is associated with urbanicity and that neighborhood socioeconomic status has a more complex relationship to community response than is suggested by the literature on land use conflict. Based on these findings, the dissertation argues that conflict resolution programs may be more effective than zoning at managing potential negative effects of sexually oriented businesses, and that improving working conditions for exotic dancers is a complex challenge. It proposes broader adoption of the sex work discourse, including the integration of labor issues in sex industry to advocacy efforts on behalf of other freelance and service sector workers.

Persistent Identifier