Students frequently believe that anthropological fieldwork necessitates traveling to far-flung tropical locations, but this is not always the case. This reading is based on research conducted in New York City and Atlanta. Claire Sterk is an anthropologist who works in a public health department at a university and focuses on women’s health issues, particularly as they pertain to sexual behavior.
In this article, she discusses how she came to study prostitution, what she learned from her fieldwork, and how her work has been received.
Sterk became interested in studying prostitution while working as a community organizer in the Bronx in the 1980s. Prostitution was ubiquitous in the neighborhood, and she became friends with many of the women who were involved in it. When AIDS began to spread through the community, she saw firsthand how it affected their lives. She decided to conduct formal research on the subject in order to learn more about how prostitutes coped with the disease and how they viewed their own health.
Sterk’s fieldwork consisted of both participant observation and interviews. She spent time walking the streets with her informants, observing their work and their interactions with customers. She also conducted in-depth interviews with them about their lives, their work, and their views on AIDS.
The women Sterk spoke to were incredibly resilient, and she was impressed by their ability to continue working despite the risk of contracting AIDS. They were also very open with her about their sex lives and their experiences with the disease. However, she found that they were often reluctant to talk about other aspects of their lives, such as their families or personal relationships.
Although her research was well received by her colleagues, Sterk found that it was often misunderstood by the general public. People tended to view the women she studied as victims rather than as survivors. They also saw her work as condone prostitution rather than as an attempt to understand the complex reality of sex work in the era of AIDS.
In this extract, she describes the fundamental research approaches she used to study these women and their communities. Sterk’s primary objective as a cultural anthropologist was to convey “the life” of prostitution from a woman’s perspective. To do so, she had to be patient, brave, empathetic, trustworthy, interested, and non-judgmental. These qualities can be seen in this selection; for example, Sterk begins her book with a poem written by one of her informants.
Prostitution, AIDS, and other related topics are difficult subjects to study. They often make people very uncomfortable. But as Sterk shows us, it is possible to conduct research on such subjects with great sensitivity and respect for her informants.
Fieldwork is a time-consuming operation since it needs to be earned and understood. In this respect, there are few distinctions between the work of a qualitative sociologist and that of a cultural anthropologist (though anthropologists would not utilize the term “deviant” to describe another society or a portion of their own culture).
Prostitution is one of the oldest occupations known to humankind, and there is much to learn about this controversial activity.
The purpose of this paper is to share some of my experiences conducting fieldwork on prostitution in the era of AIDS. I will discuss how I went about finding informants, what kinds of ethical issues arose during the course of my research, and what I ultimately learned from those who were willing to share their stories with me.
Prostitution is a sensitive topic, and it is not always easy to get people to talk about it openly. However, I believe that it is important to understand this phenomenon from the perspective of those who are most intimately involved in it. Only then can we hope to develop effective policies and programs that will address the needs of sex workers and help to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Prostitution is a controversial topic, and there are many different opinions about it. Some people believe that it should be legalized and regulated, while others think that it should be abolished altogether. There is no easy answer, and each case must be considered on its own merits.
My own views on the subject are complex, and they have been shaped by my personal experiences as well as by my professional research. I am not sure where I stand on the issue of prostitution, but I do know that we need to better understand it if we hope to make any progress in addressing the problems associated with it.
We can draw similarities in the anthropologists’ experiences, such as certain roadblocks that prevented them from properly utilizing research techniques, and distinctions, such as how they approached their subjects and involved themselves in their cultural structures.
Prostitution is a field of study that has been widely misunderstood, both by those who partake in it and those who seek to study it. Prostitution, like any other form of labor, is shaped by the environment in which it takes place. In order to understand the complexities of prostitution, one must be willing to enter into the lives of those who engage in it and see the world through their eyes. This was something that both anthropologists were able to do, despite the challenges they faced.
Another thing I discovered fascinating about Sterk’s situation is withdrawing from the field; an anthropologist must be able to find a balance between not allowing emotional baggage from a case to affect their own life and keeping a particular part of it close for emotional engagement during the research process.
Prostitution is an interesting case in which to study because it exposes a great deal about how people react under pressure and what they value when put in compromising situations. Also, because prostitution is illegal in many places, there is often a great deal of secrecy and deception that goes on between the prostitute, the client, and the law.
This creates an air of mystery and intrigue that can be studied in terms of how it affects human behavior. Additionally, because prostitution often takes place in hidden or secluded areas, it can be difficult to access for research purposes. This makes it all the more important for anthropologists to be able to build trust with their subjects and gain their cooperation.