Interacting with coworkers is tricky work. To collaborate effectively, coworkers must build rapport while also not overstepping personal boundaries. Navigating this boundary between the personal and the professional is riskier when one’s job requires having sex with different coworkers every day. I explore this core workplace tension by drawing on an extensive ethnographic study of the Los Angeles pornography and adult content creation (i.e. OnlyFans) industry, including 70 interviews with industry members, observations of over 50 pornographic shoots, and fieldwork at other events. I examine how performers navigate efficiently producing pornographic scenes, while also managing sexual intimacy both on and off camera. Building on relational approaches from cultural and economic sociology, I reveal how conflicting orientations toward sexual appropriateness—potentially leading to allegations of sexual misconduct—rarely center around sex acts themselves, but instead develop from mismatched interpretations of the symbolic meaning of their work.
About the speaker:
Hannah Wohl is an associate professor of sociology at University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research analyzes judgment, valuation, and creativity in social interaction. Bound by Creativity (University of Chicago Press, 2021), draws upon her ethnography of the New York City contemporary art world to examine how artists make creative decisions in the absence of agreed upon standards and how their participation in the art market shapes these processes. Her current ethnography of the Los Angeles pornography and adult content creation industry explores how industry members navigate acceptable interactions and content in their daily work. Wohl's research has won awards from the American Sociological Association's sections on Culture, Theory, and Consumers and Consumption. It has been published in Sociological Theory, Socio-Economic Review, Poetics, American Journal of Cultural Sociology, and Qualitative Research, among other venues.