Department or Program



Sex and work are both important concepts in major political theories, such as libertarianism, Marxism, and feminism. Yet few scholars have utilized these theories when analyzing sex work. To fill this gap, this thesis first uses libertarian, Marxist, and feminist theories to analyze in-person, or “classical,” sex work. This reveals how each theory uses the industry to reinforce their core ideologies around freedom, capitalism, and sexism, respectively. I then turn to digital sex work, which is a recent development within the industry. There is limited scholarship on digital sex work, and the literature that does exist usually does not incorporate political theories in its analysis of the industry. Therefore, I extend libertarianism, Marxism, and feminism into digital sex work to see how the online aspect complicates these theories. I argue that libertarians fail to recognize that due to their different identities, sex workers have varying degrees of individual freedom, which affects their experiences within the industry. Secondarily, a Marxist analysis of digital sex work reveals that the Internet plays an active role in the continued commodity fetishization of sex workers. Finally, feminist discourse on digital sex work elucidates the theory’s underlying commitment to provide the best set of circumstances for women. Moreover, this feminist analysis of the industry shows how crucial intersectionality is to the movement, as one set of circumstances may be beneficial for one group of women and detrimental to another. I conclude this thesis by suggesting questions that future research on sex work can address.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Gilson, Lisa

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Open Access

Available to all.