Porn Work

Sex, Labor, and Late Capitalism

By Heather Berg

256 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 1 table, appends., notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6192-6
    Published: April 2021
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6191-9
    Published: April 2021
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-6193-3
    Published: February 2021

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Every porn scene is a record of people at work. But on-camera labor is only the beginning of the story. Porn Work takes readers behind the scenes to explore what porn performers think of their work and how they intervene to hack it. Blending extensive fieldwork with feminist and antiwork theorizing, Porn Work details entrepreneurial labor on the boundaries between pleasure and tedium. Rejecting any notion that sex work is an aberration from straight work, it reveals porn workers' creative strategies as prophetic of a working landscape in crisis. In the end, it looks to what porn has to tell us about what's wrong with work, and what it might look like to build something better.

About the Author

Heather Berg is assistant professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies at Washington University in St. Louis.
For more information about Heather Berg, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"...[A] breathtaking work of scholarship — the product of 81 interviews Berg conducted with performers, managers, and crew members, the interviewees ranging in age from 21 to 70 — that challenges preconceived notions and tidy assumptions on every page." --Los Angeles Review of Books

"A deeply researched book examining the nuances of labor within the adult industry."--Jezebel

"[Berg] hones in on how porn work is both exceptional but excruciatingly ordinary, the most insecure of gig economies but also rife with possibilities for appropriating the means of production (at this point, just “your body, a smartphone, a web connection”)...emblematizing the ways porn workers “hack their industries” to imagine life without work, or at least with a lot less of it."--Boston Review

"[It] is a testament to Porn Work’s intellectual vibrancy that we finish the book wanting more...[A] magnificent, incisive book that offers not analysis from on high but rather scholarship forged in solidarity and committed to new and better politics."--New Labor Forum

"At once impressively rigorous and immensely readable, Porn Work explores the complexities of sex work in the United States today. This rich and timely study of the creative strategies sex workers have used to navigate precarious forms of labor is an absolute must-read for students of political economy and the contemporary struggles within and against work."--Kathi Weeks, author of The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries

"This book asks what it means to call porn 'work,' and what it means that the feminism at the vanguard of this framing of pornography often forgets that work itself is a site of struggle and exploitation. Berg offers a 'porn work lens' that allows readers to rethink pleasure, labor, sex, and precarity, developing an anticapitalist feminist critique of work that centers struggle and workers' voices and experiences."--Jennifer C. Nash, author of The Black Body in Ecstasy: Reading Race, Reading Pornography