Drawing upon labor-oriented historical and social science research on sex work in the Americas throughout the past twenty years, this article discusses key themes that have emerged in this work: (1) sex work's close resemblance to many other forms of feminized labor; (2) the interconnected nature of sex work with other aspects of the economic processes that impact the working poor; (3) the prominent (and generally unacknowledged) role sex work plays in economic systems; (4) how public debates over sexual morality often appear at critical moments of social change; and (5) regulation, migration, and control. This article also explores disciplinary differences between historical and social science approaches to understanding sex work and legal/public policy responses to it and offers recommendation for further research.

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