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Br J Sociol. 2012 Sep;63(3):513-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-4446.2012.01422.x.

Devalued, deskilled and diversified: explaining the proliferation of the strip industry in the UK.

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School of Sociology, University of Leeds, UK.


This paper looks beyond the debates that focus on the objectification of the female body to examine the question as to why strip clubs have proliferated and found a permanent place in the night-time economy in the UK. Using empirical qualitative and quantitative data from the largest study into the strip industry in the UK to date, we challenge the common assumption that 'demand' is responsible for the rise in erotic dance. Instead, we argue that the proliferation of strip clubs is largely due to the internal economic structures of the industry which have developed partly in response to the financial crisis beginning in 2008. First, we argue that clubs profit from individual dancers through an exploitative system of fees and fines, rendering a strip club business a low cost investment with high returns and little risk to club owners. Second, we note that the last decade has seen diversification of the industry accompanied by deskilling and devaluing of dancing and dancers' labour. Third, we demonstrate that despite the negative effects of these changes on workers, there has been an expansion of the industry as the ability to make profit, even during a financial crisis was ensured through the transferral of risk to workers. Overall, we suggest that far from proliferating as a response to demand, the industry has maintained its market presence due to its ability to establish highly financially exploitation employment relationships with dancers at a time of economic fragility.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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