A Woman Academic's Quest for Meaning and Purpose: A Reflection on the Study of Sex Service World in Hong Kong
This paper aims to reflect on my research interest in sex work which is legally dubious and morally ambiguous. An account will be given with regard to the initial research difficulties which are related to the nature of sex work and my social position as a middle class professional woman. Many people (but not so much academics) were fascinated by the research topic of sex work and turned to me for information. These people included reporters, police as well as the staff from the Human Resource Unit of my University! It is not too hard to appreciate the interest and curiosity of these people. Yet, I found it difficult to rationalize my own research interest in the sex service world which is very remote from my own world as a middle class woman academic. What did the study in sex work and sex workers mean to me and what was the purpose of my research activity? Meanwhile, the impact of technological development helps to open up the very much secluded sex industry in Hong Kong through the internet. In the internet, taboos on discussion on sexuality and sex services have been removed. Together with my new research partner, about a year ago, we embarked on a renewed study of the sex service world in Hong Kong with some promising initial findings. What I have learned from this research about sex service and the participants including sex workers, their customers as well as sex information web administrators and more generally about Chinese women's lot in the midst of economic development to a great extent help to provide a retrospective rationalization about the purpose and meaning of my research activity. This reflection paper is therefore an account of how meanings and purposes are developed as the research study unfolds.
Keywords: Nature Of Sex Work, Social Position of Researcher and Subjects of Study, Research Interest and Value, Development Of Purpose and Meaning for Research
Dr Ching-mui, Garland Liu
Assistant Professor, The School of arts and Social Sciences, The Open University of Hong Kong