Making sense of men’s procurement of sexual services

Philip Birch

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Sex work has been a contentious issue over time in a variety of ways – socially, morally, ethically, religiously and politically. Traditionally noted as one of the oldest professions in the world, prostitution has commonly been demonised and viewed as a social disgrace. While sex work involves providers of sexual services, most commonly women, and purchasers of sexual services, most commonly men, providers have attracted the most social commentary. This thesis will address this imbalance by examining the procurement of sexual services by male purchasers. Whilst it is acknowledged that sex work is multifaceted, including a range of practices such as male sex work and cultural differences in relation to the procurement of sexual services, as well as unacceptable and criminal acts such as child prostitution, trafficking, sexual coercion, and organised crime, this thesis specifically focuses on the procurement of sexual services from heterosexual female providers by male purchasers. The study is based in a western cultural context and aims to enhance understanding of this group of men’s reasons for the purchasing of sex.

The author conducted an Australian study, in which 309 men who procure sexual services in New South Wales, Australia were surveyed and 36 in‐depth interviews were held with purchasers and providers of sexual services and groups who have particular interest in the sex work industry. The thesis examines the procurement of female sexual services with a focus on the personal and social aspects of men who procure such exchanges. The thesis offers insight into the demographics of men who purchase sexual services as well as why they purchase sex. Consideration in the thesis is also given to the views of particular interest groups who have contributed to the debate, policy and legislative developments. Significant reasons for purchasing sex that emerged are: seeking affection, preventing loneliness, procuring a desired service and engaging in a sexual act without commitment. This thesis brings together existing literature with analyses of the new data, to develop a multi‐factor model of men’s procurement of sexual services. This model, MAPSS (Multi factor Analysis choice model for the Procurement of Sexual Services), shows the complexities surrounding men’s purchasing of sex. The thesis concludes by considering what contribution the understanding of the personal and social aspects of men who procure sexual services has on re-theorising the purchasing of sex in the 21st Century.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of New South Wales
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


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