Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

Department of Sociology

Committee Chair

Teresa Sobieszczyk

Commitee Members

Jackson Bunch, Katharina Werner


sex work, sex trade, sex industry, camgirls, cam models


University of Montana


Sex work and the experiences of women within it have been studied in-depth over the past four decades. However, the majority of studies on sex work focus on women who work in prostitution, overlooking rapidly growing cam modeling industry and its female workers. Over the past ten years cam modeling has become an increasingly popular adult entertainment industry, gradually displacing traditional pornography from the online sex market (Senft 2008). In this study, I used theoretical frameworks of radical and liberal feminists as well as polymorphous paradigm to investigate if the cam modeling industry is either an empowering or an exploitative form of women’s labor or rather if it combines elements from both perspectives. To answer this research question, I conducted ethnographic observations of cam models’ open video sessions on the website and eight in-depth interviews with cam models. In their interviews, cam models described that working in the industry ensures their financial independence and offers a flexible work schedule while providing an opportunity to explore their own sexuality and creativity. My interviewees also revealed that building romantic relationships or lasting friendship within a camming community was an essential factor of working in the industry. On the other hand, all cam models discussed how challenges of dealing with stalkers and customers’ degrading requests, negotiations with “freeloaders,” and body shaming from customers, as well as negative stigma, affected their emotional and psychological well-being. My findings demonstrated that cam models encounter a full spectrum of experiences while working in the industry, ranging from rewarding and liberating to extremely traumatic and life-threatening. I concluded that a cam modeling is neither empowering nor exploitative form of women’s labor; instead, it is marked by uneven levels of agency, subordination, and job satisfaction that can best be understood from the polymorphous perspective. The experiences of cam models are shaped by complex structural conditions and vary across time and place. This study fills the gap in research on sex work by investigating understudied phenomenon of cam modeling and various experiences of its female workers.



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