Prostitution, Procurement, and Power: Sex Workers' Perceptions of Pimps and Madams




Fermin, Lyndsey

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Previous research has examined the various risks associated with prostitution as well as the nature of relationships between prostitutes and their procurers, that is, their pimps or madams. However, research on prostitutes’ decision making concerning procurement— that is, to be managed or to freelance—is scarce. This study explores how prostitutes decide whether or not to be managed by a pimp or madam and evaluates the ramifications of those decisions. Drawing on insights from theories of risk management and power negotiation, this study aims to discover how sex workers in San Antonio, Texas assess the advantages and disadvantages of being managed or freelancing while considering the consequences of their critical choice. To examine this issue, qualitative interviews collected from seventeen female prostitutes are analyzed. These interviews are used to examine how sex workers assess and negotiate various risks associated with their line of work. Special attention is focused on the risk mitigation and risk magnification introduced by the procurers (pimps and madams). This study sheds new light on how women who work in the world’s oldest profession actively manage the risks associated to their line of work.


This item is available only to currently enrolled UTSA students, faculty or staff. To download, navigate to Log In in the top right-hand corner of this screen, then select Log in with my UTSA ID.


madams, pimps, power, prostitution, risk management, sex work