Skip navigation

Navigating and resisting platform affordances: online sex work as digital labor

Navigating and resisting platform affordances: online sex work as digital labor

Rand, Helen ORCID: 0000-0002-2513-0667 and Stegeman, Hanne M (2023) Navigating and resisting platform affordances: online sex work as digital labor. Gender, Work and Organization. ISSN 0968-6673 (Print), 1468-0432 (Online) (doi:

PDF (Publisher VoR)
44387_RAND_Navigating_and_resisting_platform_affordances_Online_sex_work_as_digital_labor.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (264kB) | Preview


The context in which labor occurs shapes work. In online work, the platform is one site of work and therefore influences the experiences of workers. Current research on affordances considers how these platform features create value for the platform, shape workers' rights and safety, and reinforce existing racial hierarchies through algorithms. This project, researching online sex work practices in the UK, adds to this literature on platform work by analyzing how workers themselves experience and view the role of platform affordances in their work. With sex work as gendered and stigmatized labor, it also provides unique insights into the role of platforms in valuing typically feminized work both economically and culturally. Drawing on 19 interviews with workers on the UK-dominant platform AdultWork and platform observations, we show that platform affordances do create, shape, and maintain the valuation of online labor but in dynamic and relational processes with workers. Structural analysis shows how platform affordances may create competition that decreases the value of labor, but individually sex workers revealed strategies to engage with these affordances to resist devaluation and set boundaries in what appears to be a highly competitive market, thus, highlighting the multidirectional, relational agency, and connectivity between platform affordances and workers. By focusing on the experiences of sex workers, the findings contribute to discussions on the role of platforms in valuing feminized online labor.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: feminized labor; gig work; influencer labor; platform affordances; sex work
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
K Law > K Law (General)
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Law & Criminology (LAC)
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2023 15:17

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics