Walking the beat and doing business: Exploring spaces of male sex work and public sex

Michael Atkins, Mary Laing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


This article draws on two research projects to explore how spaces of public male sex work come into being through commercial and public sexual practices. Utilizing a blended methodology of ethnography, participant observation, interview materials, map making and photography, the article explores an area known for commercial and non-commercial sexual encounters between men in a city in the UK. It makes conceptual arguments about the material and discursive significance of walking in the making, and continued existence of ‘red light district’ spaces. Specifically, we will look at how men engaged in sex work (those described to be ‘doing business’) and other men seeking non-commercial sexual liaisons recognize the potential for sexual encounters in the space through environmental and embodied signifiers. We also discuss how patterns of walking and waiting mediated by this reading of the environment contribute to the emergence and persistence of a ‘beat’ space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622-643
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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