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Prostitution is usually understood as a sexual exchange for gain. Sexual exchange is depicted in classical art and literature and has been a topic of scholarship. Scholarship on sex work has traditionally been dominated by discussions of the topic as a social problem, deviance, or vector of disease. However, more recent scholarship innovatively addresses burnout and coping, in addition to a small but widely cited number of articles addressing trauma.
Far more literature exists, even when limited to the very best examples, than can be included in this bibliography. Therefore, it is recommended that this bibliography be seen as a starting point rather than a complete list of worthwhile reading on a topic that intersects every sector of every society. Items that merit more attention and newer work expanding scholarship in new directions have been prioritized.
Most of the selections feature citations offering additional material for more in-depth investigation. Each item is listed only once, but because prostitution and sex work are not discrete but instead overlap with every sector of society and form microcosms within many social concerns, many selections could be placed in more than one section. These have been included in the best-fitting section, although in some cases other decisions regarding classification could well have been justified.
These books describe and analyze a variety of venues for prostitution and sex work. Some offer an in-depth focus on a particular place or gender, such as De Becker on Japan, Friedman with its focus on American men, and Ditmore , a textbook of American history. Others include chapters or entries covering wider geography and topics, such as Ditmore , an encyclopedia featuring more than three hundred entries, Roberts , a historical survey by a sex worker and feminist historian, and the anthologies Weitzer and Ditmore, et al.
Ditmore, Melissa Hope, ed. Encyclopedia of prostitution and sex work. A—Z reference work including extensive front matter and entries on cultural, legal, and social phenomena and concepts of prostitution and sex work.