Purpose – This paper aims to examine, from a global macro perspective, the relationships between commercial sex, regulatory system and shadow economies. Design/methodology/approach – The paper draws on eight years of research in the sex industries and literature from other sources that explore the nuances of the economic and social organisation of the sex markets in different countries. Findings – First, a four point continuum is presented, based on the following types of economies: legal formal; legal informal; illegal informal and illegal criminal. Second, challenging principles that the sex industry is only “demand” driven, this paper looks at the nature of the sex industry, examining the dynamics of supply in the context of a prolific global shadow sex economy. Third, the concept of “supply” is broadened out to refer not only to women involved in selling direct and indirect sexual services but the legitimate and illegitimate service industries that are ancillary to the sex industry: namely: advertising, marketing, leisure industries, security, policing and welfare. Originality/value – Contributing to the cultural analysis of the sex industry and drawing on original ethnographic observations, this paper stresses the relevance of the “supply” side of the sex industry, including ancillary industries that support the sex markets in the shadow economies.
Business analysis, Regulation, Sex and gender issues, Supply and demand
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