Faculty Publications


Street sex work: Re/constructing discourse from margin to center.

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

Jill McCracken

Document Type


Publication Date


Date Issued

January 2010

Date Available

July 2014




Newspaper media create interpretations of marginalized groups that require rhetorical analysis so that we can better understand these representations. This article focuses on how newspaper articles create interpretations of sex work that affect both the marginalized and mainstream communities. My ethnographic case study argues that the material conditions of many street sex workers— the physical environments they live in and their effects on the workers’ bodies, identities, and spirits—are represented, reproduced, and entrenched in the language surrounding their work. The signs and symbols that make up these “material conditions” can be rhetorically analyzed in order to better understand how interests, goals, and ideologies are represented and implemented through language. Locating the street sex workers’ voices at its center, my analysis reveals that journalists include and omit words and themes that serve to highlight particular material conditions related to street sex work that influences the reader’s perspective of sex work as a whole. I then offer suggestions for making different language choices that subvert these disempowering ideologies.


Citation only. Full-text article is available through licensed access provided by the publisher. Published in Community Literacy Journal, 2010, vol. 4(2). Reprinted in Best Essays from Independent Composition/Rhetoric Journals, 2010.


Michigan Technological University, Department of Humanities

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