by on April 14, 2012 at 2:34 am in Economics, The Arts | Permalink

Is the lap dancer sector being brought down by finance?  Is the British knowledge base being eroded?

The study by Teela Sanders and Kate Hardy from Leeds University warns of “de-skilling” across the industry. Dr Sanders said many dancers had “never even used a pole”.

Researchers carried out a survey of 200 lap dancers, the largest study of its kind in the UK, it was reported.

Dr Sanders said there had been a “real change” to the “aesthetics of the dancers” as well as “the skills of flirting and chatting”.

The study is due to be presented today at the British Sociological Association’s annual conference in Leeds, according to The Times.

Here is much more, and I thank a loyal MR reader, WM, for the pointer.

1 david April 14, 2012 at 3:01 am

“One told researchers: “You’d see a girl who wasn’t very pretty, couldn’t dance, [and] had a crap outfit making a lot more money than you because she was there to make money, not to enjoy herself and be creative.”

Perhaps not so much “going down” as the labour market equilibrium shifting to a lower-wage, lower-skilled point as an influx of unemployed women enter the market. So previous high-skilled high-wage labourers get forced out. They could put in less effort but doing so might impose a utility penalty. Regardless it doesn’t seem to be de-skilling, straightforwardly speaking.

2 Hoover April 14, 2012 at 3:37 am

The report “says that many older dancers are worried about a loss of professionalism, with training failing to keep up with an influx of migrant workers and students to the job”

Well this sounds like special pleading from the lap dancing establishment. It’s possible that the profession is on the way to commoditisation, as plentiful supply meets a wider and less discriminating demand.

Substitute “migrant workers and students” for “McDonalds” and one may find the situation reflected in the catering industry.

Indeed, professionalism may not be falling as much as claimed. Change it to “Shake Shack” and one has the basis for a book called ‘An Economist Gets a Lap Dance’.

3 Roland Martinez April 14, 2012 at 10:02 am

I would buy that book. In fact if any publishers aren’t feeling overly squeezed by the anti-trust proceedings I would be happy to write that book for a moderate advance.

4 Ghengis Khak April 14, 2012 at 8:47 pm

And please, send me the advance in singles to save me a trip to the bank.

5 Gareth April 14, 2012 at 4:21 am

This study was funded by an ESRC grant. Yes, this is where our taxes are going in Britain. Research into lap-dancing. I should have become a sociologist.

6 Andrew' April 14, 2012 at 5:34 am

Well, at least we know fruit flies like beer and sex. And before you say anything, I realize the fruit fly is an evolutionary proxy. But we already knew the love of beer and sex is evolutionarily conserved.

7 Matt April 14, 2012 at 6:52 am

You don’t think it’s worthwhile to try to understand the economics of the adult industry?

8 Gareth April 14, 2012 at 8:45 am

I struggle to imagine how the funding of research into the adult industry passes cost/benefit analysis – particularly for a government supposedly trying to eliminate an 8% deficit.

Is this likely to improve our long-term productivity? Are there no biotech researchers who lack funding? Engineering? If you made a list of research areas to fund, where would sociology come?

Also nobody mention the word “stimulus” in this context please.

9 Thomas Forth April 14, 2012 at 1:30 pm

I’m with Matt on this. The adult industry creates a lot of revenue through taxation and is also subject to a lot of restrictions. If we are going to make informed decisions on whether to change the number of licensed premises then surely we need to know the facts on how this affects the people who work in them? I suspect “common sense” is deeply misleading in this field so impartial research is essential.

Regarding your second point, I am a biotech researcher and the field could always do with more funding but the group researching this in Leeds is tiny compared to the other research faculties at the University. The combined funding of the EPSRC and BBSRC is about fifteen times larger than the ESRC so in answer to your question, sociology comes pretty low down the list of research areas to fund.

10 Andrew' April 14, 2012 at 6:05 am

So it’s Bring Your Own Pole…not a problem.

11 Andrew' April 14, 2012 at 6:08 am

“And after 10 years they let you touch the pole”

Somebody stop me!!!

12 Tom April 14, 2012 at 11:34 am


13 Rahul April 14, 2012 at 6:35 am

Has there been a spurt in Ignoble-worthy studies lately?

14 Colin April 14, 2012 at 8:38 am

Britain doesn’t really have a strip club culture. There aren’t many strip clubs, and the ones that are around are very very underground, not institutions that care about brand management.

15 Bob Knaus April 14, 2012 at 9:13 am

Indeed. There must be a shortage of the clubs, if they can charge to girls to dance there. I’m personally acquainted with a former stripper, and in south Florida she always got paid to strip. Never had to pay for the privilege. She did have to split her tips with the DJ and bar staff.

16 Thomas Forth April 14, 2012 at 1:22 pm

As a resident of Leeds your comment doesn’t ring true. Two strip clubs, Red Leopard and Wildcats, are directly opposite the main art gallery, the town hall and the combined courts on The Headrow, one of the main streets in the city. They are certainly not underground and they, and other clubs, regularly send branded Humvees with dancers in the back driving around town to pick up business.

17 Rahul April 14, 2012 at 4:11 pm

On my trips to Germany a striking difference from the US was the locations of strip clubs and related businesses. In the US they seem hidden in some seedy or industrial district. Whereas in Stuttgart one walks right out of the main downtown train station and a sex-shop right there. So also in Zurich.

18 Peter April 14, 2012 at 8:49 am

How about a government-funded study about the percentage of lap dancers who actually look like adult women instead of like prepubescent little girls? Oh wait, I can answer that – it’s zero percent.

19 RmDeep April 14, 2012 at 11:39 am

The market wants what it wants, dude. People claim that they don’t like teen girls because of North American society’s ridiculous insistence that desiring 16–18 year old girls is pedophilia, which it absolutely is not. A quick scan of the porn available on any tube site, or the most desirable strippers at any club, quickly puts the lie to the claim that most men actually want “real women” (meaning: chubby ones in their 30s with “curves”). Revealed preference. (Same thing with the Brazilian treatment down below.)

16–26, peak hotness. Hate to break it to you.

20 Miley Cyrax April 14, 2012 at 3:05 pm

+16 to +18 for RmDeep.

People start declining physically after finishing puberty. That’s why most professional athletes start fading in their mid-20s, when physical decline starts off-setting experience.

And what’s more physical than looks? It just so happens that looks are the primary driver in what makes girls attractive to guys.

21 Rahul April 14, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Non-North-American strip clubs have 16-18 year old strippers?

22 JWatts April 14, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Where are you going that the strippers look like “prepubescent little girls”? Runway models, yes. Strippers, not in any place I’ve been.

“People claim that they don’t like teen girls because of North American society’s ridiculous insistence that desiring 16–18 year old girls is pedophilia, which it absolutely is not.”

Who is insisting that this is true? Particularly 18 year old girls? And anyway he said “prepubescent little girls”. Which pretty much implies pre-teen.

23 RmDeep April 14, 2012 at 6:23 pm

There are no strippers anywhere that actually look prepubescent. Be realistic. Peter is either lying, or he’s talking about skinny, fit girls in their early 20s with small-ish breasts and waxed vaginas. And there is nothing wrong with that. They don’t look prepubescent, they look like the ideal of attractiveness, as revealed by the fact that those types dominate at strip clubs and on internet porn.

Sorry Peter, your desire for ‘curvy’ girls with ’70s bush is not the norm.

24 Cliff April 14, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Are you talking about strictly pubic hair? If so, that’s about the same percentage as among all women in 20 years or so, sorry. If not, you’re not making any sense.

25 Peter April 14, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Are you talking about strictly pubic hair? If so, that’s about the same percentage as among all women in 20 years or so, sorry. If not, you’re not making any sense.

Well, duh, yes. I have a fetish to maintain, no matter how unpopular it may be.
I don’t understand what you mean by “that’s about the same percentage as among all women in 20 years or so.”

26 Miley Cyrax April 14, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Many girls prefer their partners properly man-scaped. Are they all closet pedophiles also, who long for prepubescent boys?

27 TGGP April 14, 2012 at 11:59 pm

The Atlantic had an article on this and said 60 percent of women ages 18-24 were sans, and half for those 25-29, with considerably lower percentages for higher ages. I know you are always going on an on about this, but it seems you are wrong when making such exaggerated claims about the general population (you are possibly correct about lap dancers).

28 celestus April 14, 2012 at 9:23 am

Well, I guess wages in the stripping industry aren’t…sticky.

29 Ghengis Khak April 14, 2012 at 8:53 pm


I was looking forward to a “sticky wages” joke as a read through the comments.

30 Pandaemoni April 14, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Clearly, more research is needed into this vital area. Tell my girlfriend that I am doing this purely for research purposes.

31 Miley Cyrax April 14, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Tell her to come with you to help you with the research and be a co-author.

Perhaps you could even convince her to bring a dancer back with you two for a three– err, more in-depth case study.

32 Brian C April 14, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I would expect to hear a call from the older established dancers for greater regulations such as educational requirements (demonstrated proficiency with the pole?) and professional licensing all in the name of protecting the club patrons from being subjected to sub-standard performers, of course.

33 Rahul April 14, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Can strippers get a work-visa? I wonder. Skilled trade or unskilled and how does one demonstrate the shortage of native workers.

34 revver April 14, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Yup, here in Canada they must get certification to perform.

35 Doc Merlin April 15, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Lol, work protection for strippers.

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