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• Male Sex Workers. A comparative study of a fringe phenomenon in Italy and Sweden.

Marco Bacio
Funded by Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Milan, Italy (www.sps.unimi.it) and Department of Gender Studies, Lund University, Sweden.

This research aims at mapping and analysing the phenomenon of male sex workers (specifically men that sell sex to other men, M$M) in Sweden. If female sex work has been studied from different scholars worldwide, a lack of attention exists on the male side of the phenomenon. This gap in the academic literature mirrors a more general ‘invisibility’ of the issue also in other domains - politics (governments and public institutions), press, and public opinion. The first part of this contribution is devoted to the Swedish legislation (that criminalize the clients of the ‘prostitutes’) and on the effects of existing provisions on the work and on the life of the sex workers. The project also looks at the working conditions of sex workers and at the services provided to their clients. A further gap in most studies, indeed, relates to the analysis of sex work as an actual work and sex workers as workers in the same way of other types of work. The research points, first of all, at answering these questions and at grasping the different sides of the phenomenon through a qualitative methodology. In-depth interviews with sex workers (the so-called supply side) have been carried out in Stockholm and in other parts of Sweden. Moreover, the phenomenon of male sex workers is strongly related to the use of internet, new media, and mobile applications (or ‘apps’). For this reason, it is interesting to analyse how the new technologies shaped this activity and what type or relations they generate in terms of race, social class, and educational credential. Finally, the encounters between sex workers and clients will be the object of my investigation. What types of relations do they establish during the encounters? The focus is on the strategies that sex workers employed with their clients and how emotions and pleasure become instruments of these relations.