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
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5918-1
    Published: February 2021
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6191-9
    Published: April 2021
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-6193-3
    Published: February 2021

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Awards & distinctions

2022 C.L.R. James Best Book for Academic or General Audience Award, Working-Class Studies Association

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

“Theoretically sophisticated, elegantly written, and rigorously even-handed in [the] treatment of her subjects . . . Berg depicts her eighty-plus interviewees as complex subjects with a variety of motivations, calculations, and desires laboring in a very particular corner of the contemporary professional landscape.”—Sexualities

“Heather Berg enables the reader to understand and engage in a topic area that is rarely discussed to such a full extent, and which seemingly carries a lot of stigma and segregation. . . . [A]n excellent read.”—Criminal Law & Criminal Justice Books