Chapter

“The Sources of Courtesanship”: African American Women's Wage Work, the Informal Economy, and the Search for Independence

in I've Got to Make My Livin'

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780226055985
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226056005 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226056005.003.0002
“The Sources of Courtesanship”: African American Women's Wage Work, the Informal Economy, and the Search for Independence

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This chapter examines the paths of African American women to the sex industry in Chicago. It explains that these women were restricted to low-paying domestic employment and they frequently looked for work to make ends meet and for independence. The sex economy was one of the largest sectors of the illicit urban informal economy and it provided them with much needed income. This chapter shows that the sex economy occupied a place along a continuum of informal pursuits to which African American men and women turned to in the late-nineteenth-century city.

Keywords: African American women; sex industry; domestic employment; urban informal economy; sex economy; independence

Chapter.  12204 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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