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Sex for Sale: People as Consumable Objects

An MBS seminar with Dr Ron Hill, American University

  • 9 Mar 2021, 3.00pm to 9 Mar 2021, 4.00pm GMT
  • This is an online event.
  • This event is free

Women have been stigmatized and commodified for millennia as institutional and structural norms seek to control their sexuality. One principal means by which they are subject to market dynamics and bought-and-sold is through prostitution, a system in which males negotiate with females or their handlers to receive certain forms of physicality and access to sexual acts. Our purpose is to chronicle how stigmatization and commodification unfolded for Indian women who became liner meye (brothel-based sex worked) despite natural inclinations and disgust at selling the intimate parts of their bodies. Our results divulge three interrelated themes: commodification, commoditization, and self-commodification as distinct and novel phenomenon; societal stigmas and alternative pathways to cope with this spoiled identity; and plans, fantasies, and fears about future selves after leaving the profession. These fresh insights are revealed and demonstrate the unique connection between stigmatization and commodification, how women are bought-and-sold under these conditions and their behaviors within and outside its confines, and strategies that indict and operate against the patriarchal culture that has historically situated women and their sexuality under the aegis of men. Voices of sex workers in our study inform our results.


Ronald Paul Hill, Ph.D. in business administration from the University of Maryland, is the Dean’s Professor of Marketing and Public Policy at the American University, Kogod School of Business. He has authored over 200 journal articles, books, chapters, and conference papers on topics that include impoverished consumer behavior, marketing ethics, corporate social responsibility, human development, and public policy. Outlets for this research are Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Research, Business and Society, International Journal of Research in Marketing, Human Rights Quarterly, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, and Harvard Business Review. His term as Editor of the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing extended from July 2006 until June 2012, and he edits the Journal of Consumer Affairs until the end of this year. His recent awards include: 2012 Williams-Qualls-Spratlen Multicultural Mentoring Award of Excellence, 2012 Villanova University Outstanding Faculty Research Award, 2010 Pollay Prize for Excellence in the Study of Marketing in the Public Interest, 2013 AMA Marketing and Society Special Interest Group Lifetime Achievement Award, 2013 Alan N. Nash Distinguished Doctoral Graduate Award, and VSB 2014 McDonough Family Faculty Award for Research Excellence. His 2014 article won the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing Thomas Kinnear Award in 2016, his 2015 Journal of Consumer Affairs article won the best paper award in 2016, and his 2015 Journal of Macromarketing article won the Slater Award in 2016. He received the 2017 Marketing Management Association Master Scholar Award, and he was given the 2019 AMA William L. Wilkie Marketing for a Better World Award.

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