Managing the ‘Party’: Third Parties and the Organization of Labour in Ontario Strip Clubs

Title: Managing the ‘Party’: Third Parties and the Organization of Labour in Ontario Strip Clubs
Authors: Law, Tuulia
Date: 2016
Abstract: Amidst a considerable body of literature on erotic dance, the voices of third parties, that is, the people who organize, supervise, manage or coordinate the labour of dancers, seldom appear. Yet, these third parties provide a setting and services that are vital to dancers’ entrepreneurial success. Furthermore, perceptions of third parties as exploitative and coercive perpetuate framings of erotic dance – and sex work in general – as harmful, which in turn invisibilize dancers’ work, as well as their skills, labour rights and grievances. Drawing from qualitative interviews with 15 third parties and 15 dancers, as well as regional regulatory texts, this dissertation seeks to trouble these stigmatic assumptions by shedding light on the work of third parties and the organization of labour in Ontario’s erotic dance sector. Mapping the occupational roles and relationships amongst third parties (e.g., managers, bouncers, disc jockeys) reveals the organizational structure and peripheries of the strip club. Through this map, we see how third parties together form the organizational structure, which operates as a parallel entity to dancers who, as independent contractors, are for the most part responsible for their own work activities and income. At the same time, because dancers and third parties must equally provide quality service to their shared customers, they are both interdependent on, and independent of, each other. This relationship ‘plays out’ through occupational and situationally adaptive performances, which reiterate and resist normative gender, racial, and class scripts to produce the ‘party’ environment of the strip club. Simultaneously ambiance and organizational culture, the ‘party’ environment shapes third parties’ and dancers’ occupational performances for, and perceptions of, each other. The continuity of performance required to maintain this environment also results in third parties reproducing certain regulatory discourses and mechanisms in their surveillance and rule enforcement practices, and disregarding and subverting others, which in turn impacts upon dancers’ safety. Third parties’ relationships with each other and dancers are also permeated by stigma, stereotypes and perceptions of risk that echo regulatory and broader social discourses. These findings demonstrate that third parties’ engagement with regulation and normative discourses are deeply inter-related and impact the quality of the services they provide to dancers. On this basis it is argued that the context and conditions of dancers’ labour will be improved by rethinking narrow-minded regulatory frameworks and social norms.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -