Authors: Nattawut Singkul, Pimpawun Boonmongkon, and Thomas E. Guadamuz

Research Article

Year: 2019, Volume 19 Number 3

Pages: 108-118


The growth of the sex trade is connected with globalization and cross-border migration. There is an increase of young female Laotian sex workers who respond to the demand of Thai male customers. Emotion and sexuality are integrated as an essential part of sexual goods and services, and are essential tools for sex workers to generate business profits and customer satisfaction. The study’s objectives are to study the expression of emotion and sexuality among female Lao migrant sex workers (FLMSWs) who work in one Thai-Lao cross border town, and to analyze the management and negotiation of emotion and sexuality in the commercial sex in karaoke bars by FLMSWs. Content and narrative analyses were conducted from an ethnographic study consisting of participant observations, five focus group discussion, 20 in-depth interviews, and 10 narrative interviews. The research used the concept of emotional labor and emotion management by Arlie Russell Hochschild during the data analysis. The key finding of this study are as follow: 1) the emotion is a tool of management and negotiated in sexual service; 2) emotion management was produced for sexual service as well as strategies of screening and choosing clients, including building zone about body and emotion; and 3) the emotion-related to social identity is manufactured for negotiation during work and everyday life. They are not merely victimized, but they have agency and power to seek life opportunities. These study findings contribute to the revision of migrant worker’s policy and program, especially the destigmatization of migrant sex workers in Thailand and elsewhere.

Keywords: emotion management, emotional labor, female Laotian migrant sex workers, negotiation, transnational commercial sex