American Sociological Association

My Body of Work: Promotional Labor and the Bundling of Complementary Work

What if certain types of work allow workers to earn higher incomes when bundled together? Using qualitative interview data on the careers of sex workers in California, the author argues that workers can attempt to increase overall earnings by taking part in promotional labor: a specific type of labor in which workers strategically bundle complementary forms of work with differing status and income levels to increase overall income. Because of a sharp decline in adult film production beginning in 2007, adult film performers relied on escorting to make up for lower wages and fewer filming opportunities. However, these sex workers still performed in adult films, despite filming being more time intensive and less financially lucrative, to promote themselves as high-end escorts. The author concludes that promotional labor is a mechanism by which workers and firms in general mitigate labor uncertainty by using the cross-promotional benefits of different types of complementary work.

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Authors

David Schieber

Volume

4