'She's a professional like anyone else': Social identity among Brazilian sex workers
Murray,Laura R.; Lippman,Sheri A.; Donini,Angela; Kerrigan,Deanna
Culture, Health and Sexuality 12(3): 293-306
Publication date: 2010
Community mobilisation among sex workers is recognised as an important HIV/STI prevention strategy. However, factors such as poverty and stigma often negatively influence participation in activities that attempt to mobilise around a common identity of 'sex workers'. A qualitative study was conducted to explore the relationship between social identity and participation among 24 sex workers enrolled in an HIV/STI prevention intervention research project with a community mobilisation component. The relationship between social identity and participation was found to be a dynamic process in which participation in project clinic and community-based activities was motivated by three overlapping strategies: participation for psycho-social and health benefits; participation to improve individual status; and participation to change group status. Rather than mobilising around a 'sex worker identity', we conclude that projects with a community mobilisation approach may be more effective if they facilitate space for critical self-reflection and opportunities for collective action with an emphasis on acceptance and solidarity.