The current review provides comprehensive analysis of Sterk’s contribution into debates on behavioral aspects of sexual behavior and health education. To understand the meaning of her article Tricking and Tripping which occurs in Annual Editions: Anthropology and where she provides interesting but controversial analysis of prostitution in modern society. Sterk is professor in Emory University where she runs several research projects connected with juvenile and adult health, drugs, sexual reproduction, epidemiology. She is particularly interested in the impact of drug use on social relations in family, between friends, and greater impact thereof on prostitution and other social issues.
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Besides this, Sterk pays particular attention to research the issues of HIV/AIDS in the wider context of social relations which are conceptualized following the canons of behavioral sociology and psychology. Sterk is famous for developing interesting typologies of drug users, drug patterns and elaborating broader framework for assessing health consequences of this type of behavior. We will see that all this finds its reflection on her analysis of prostitution which will be discussed later.
There is no denying the fact that the purpose of Sterk’s article, as she defines it, it to provide careful analysis of prostitution’s world. This includes revealing and research the social, norm and behavioral laws that govern it, the character of social relations between prostitutes and their superiors, behavioral reaction to external interference of social relations and a broader framework of health issues connected with prostitution with HIV/AIDS in the first place. There is no denying the importance of the fact that though these purposes are multifaceted and ambitious, not all of announced goals were achieved due to problematic structure of their representation. So, for instance, the issues of HIV/AIDS were developed more carefully than the problems of social interaction within prostitute groups and their dominant representatives in criminal communities.
Besides this it should be noted that the development of methodology and conceptual approaches to above mentioned problems seems to be partial and lacking necessary efforts. So, for instance, Sterk says that she bases her study on the basic premises of behavioral sciences, however, from the realization of research it is difficult to say where these methods are applied and what is the scope of their application.
Moreover, it often seems that the author does not follow the announced methodology using here and there structural and functional approaches. Notwithstanding this criticism it seems that Sterk managed to open difficult but interesting debates in various issues concerning health education, HIV/AIDS and its interconnection with prostitution. It seems that the author has a sympathetic which is the same that objective attitude to the world of prostitution which avoids formal moralization and false generalization based on common sense and different prejudices. The author relates to prostitution and the health problems connected with it as scientific object worth analysis.
One of the basic strengths of this article is detailed analysis of common pathways in prostitution which is made on the basis of statistic and empirical analysis, interviewing, interpretation of facts and other quantitative methods which characterize professional research. The scope of data and material collected by Sterk to these ends certify the fact that she is a real professional in her field.
Among other strength one should mention author’s typology of prostitute carriers which is, as far as other sources are concerned, one of the most significant contemporary contribution in the analysis of mentioned phenomenon. The typology is presented in coherent way and takes into consideration various external factors as social, urban and cultural environment which are often unreasonably neglected by other authors researching this problematic.
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Besides this an important issue of the role of pimps and boyfriends was addressed paying specific attention to the nature of violence and compulsion in the relations between prostitutes and these people. These issues may be described as significant contribution of Sterk to current debates since her reflections are supported by extensive empirical analysis of facts.
There is no denying the importance of the fact that Sterk as a specialist in drug use by juveniles and representatives of adolescent criminal communities pays special attention to the analysis of interrelation between drug use and prostitution. As her analysis shows prostitution is deeply tied with other categories of criminal activities and hence is premised on illegal dissemination and use of drugs and other prohibited substances.
Going in line with modern trends Sterk also analyzes prostitution in light of racial and gender issues, proving that for understanding the phenomenon of prostitution we should know its racial and gender components. And Sterk herself calls this approach ethnography of prostitution.
There is no denying the importance of the fact that this article is also characterized by author’s professional writing style and serious scholar approach to analyzed issues. The argumentation is coherent, logical and accessible to every reader interested in a wide spectrum of issues. To sum it up, notwithstanding some significant shortcoming of research we have mentioned, positive moments considerably outweigh negative and we can recommend this article to read by everyone interested in the abovementioned issues.