First Advisor

Michele Gamburd

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Conflict Resolution


Conflict Resolution




Prostitution -- Social aspects -- Oregon -- Portland, Prostitution -- Moral and ethical aspects -- Oregon -- Portland, Prostitutes -- Oregon -- Portland -- Psychological aspects



Physical Description

1 online resource (135 pages)


This thesis uses an advocacy/participatory framework and moral conflict theory to examine the opposing ideas: and interests of parties involved in the issue of prostitution on 82nd Avenue in Portland, Oregon. It locates areas of contention within the larger dominant feminist discourse, which views sex work as either a form of violence and exploitation or as a form of legitimate free-contract labor. The thesis shows how the intractable moral conflict between these differing feminist theories and values can be mediated using participatory data collection techniques.

Ethnographic data was collected and analyzed from 11 women working in the sex industry in Portland, highlighting voices commonly left out of the conflict. Participants were given cameras and invited to photo-document their individual and community's needs and aspirations through the qualitative, arts-based research method, photovoice. An exhibit of these photographs was displayed as an art exhibit at several locations throughout the Portland area. Data collection methods also included a review of local media sources collected between September 2007 and April 2009, and field notes gathered from participatory and non-participatory observations at public town hall forums. Close analytic attention is given to the perspectives of those marginalized populations of sex workers excluded from the dialogue on issues that directly affect them.

This thesis demonstrates ways in which community-based, participatory research, such as the use of photovoice method, can empower marginalized individuals to affect change within their community. The exhibit of photovoice data was used to enhance communication among individuals and groups involved in an intractable moral conflict about sex work in Portland. This thesis argues that photovoice method has potential for increasing the quality of public discourse to manage moral conflicts or to discover resolutions suitable to the needs and desires of multiple stakeholders.


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