First Advisor

Aaron Roussell

Term of Graduation

Spring 2020

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology






Sex-oriented businesses, Autonomy (Psychology), Application software, Prostitution -- Technological innovations, Sex workers -- Attitudes



Physical Description

1 online resource (ii, 53 pages)


Accessibility to social media applications ("apps") has paved the way for a new addition under the umbrella of sex work: adult content creation. By selling self-produced photos and videos through mainstream social media apps, creators experience a specific set of conditions unlike the forms of sex work that have proceeded it. Through 13 semi-structured interviews, the following question is investigated: What aspects of app-based sex work heighten or threaten workers' senses of autonomy? Autonomy is defined as being able to exert control over one's work and the ability to work without external interruption. It is found that while the demand of being one's own boss can be taxing, working outside of patriarchal organizations allows creators to thrive on their own time and on their own terms. The emotional labor tied to the demand for the experience of a non-commodified sexual relationship is mitigated by creators' ability to set protective barriers. Similarly, sexual harassment from customers can be effectively dealt with through account privacy settings. While adult content creators demonstrate resilience that helps them overcome these barriers, autonomy is significantly impeded upon by the rules and restrictions of apps imposed in the wake of FOSTA-SESTA--a federal legislative package that holds online platforms accountable if human trafficking is found. In the absence of the bureaucratic structures that are present in the formal economy, policing efforts that trickle down from the Federal Government become the organization that enforces gendered inequality in informal economic settings.


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