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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
Title: “Dark spaces of precarity”: networks and complexity in the off-street sex market
Author(s): Kjellgren, Richard
Supervisor(s): Hamilton-Smith, Niall
Griffiths, David
Keywords: sex trafficking
social networks
Issue Date: 22-May-2023
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Background Contemporary sex markets in the United Kingdom comprise diverse populations, networks, and experiences, and working conditions range from high levels of autonomy to control and exploitation. Online technologies have fundamentally reconfigured and augmented sex markets with digital dimensions, requiring law enforcement to utilise open-source intelligence (OSINT) in sex trafficking investigations. There is limited research on how technology facilitates exploitation in sex markets, and the precise role and utility of OSINT in investigative contexts. Methods A mixed-methods design was employed to examine how online technologies facilitate exploitation in sex markets, to develop and evaluate an evidence-based methodology for generating OSINT, and to improve our understanding of online networks. Semi-structured interviews with human trafficking detectives and service providers were conducted, and the initial OSINT methodology was discussed with investigators. The findings guided the further development of the methodology, which was applied to a large dataset of online escort adverts. The identified networks were then analysed through spatio-temporal case studies, statistical social network analysis, and multilevel modelling. Results Criminal networks in the sex market have widely adopted online technologies, which have increased their flexibility, and enhanced their logistical and administrative capabilities. The developed OSINT methodology was demonstrated to be efficient in identifying and mapping online networks in the sex market. The quantitative results indicate a diversity of networks in the sex market, distributed along a continuum of complexity. Network structure can be attributable to several factors, and online marketing strategies are mediated by network complexity and structure. Conclusions The triangulation of qualitative and quantitative data contributed to novel insights into the complexities of internet-mediated exploitation. The methodology developed to generate OSINT has strong implications for the policing of contemporary sex markets, allowing for an efficient approach to augmenting investigations with a digital overlay, or as a means to evaluate localised organised crime threats.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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