Streets, strolls and spots: Sex work, drug use and social space in detroit

Paul Draus, Juliette Roddy, Kanzoni Asabigi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: In this paper, we explore social spaces related to street sex work and illicit drug use in Detroit. We consider these spaces as assemblages (Duff, 2011, 2013; Latour, 2005) that reflect the larger moral geography (Hubbard, 2012) of the city and fulfill specific functions in the daily lives of drug using sex workers. Methods: We draw on thirty-one in-depth qualitative interviews with former street sex workers who were recruited through a court-based treatment and recovery program, as well as ethnographic field notes from drug treatment and law enforcement settings. Results: Our interview findings reveal highly organized and routine activities that exist in a relatively stable, symbiotic relationship with law enforcement practices, employment and commuter patterns, and built environments. While the daily life of street sex work involves a good deal of individual agency in terms of moving between spaces and negotiating terms of exchange, daily trajectories were also circumscribed by economics, illicit substance use, and the objective risks of the street and the police. Conclusion: We consider the implications of these results for future policy directed at harm reduction in the street setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)453-460
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Assemblage
  • Moral geography
  • Sex work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy


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