Barbara G. Brents

Professor, Sociology
Expertise: Political Sociology, Social Policy, Gender, Sex Industry, Sexuality


Barb Brents has spent more than 25 years studying politics, sex and gender. She is considered one of the world’s leading academic experts on the sex industry and Nevada’s legal brothels. Her numerous books and publications use research on sexual commerce to understand the politics of sexuality; the intersections of culture and economics; sexual markets and consumption, and the emotional and bodily labor of selling sex.

Her most recent co-authored book, Paying for Sex in the Digital Age: US and UK Perspectives (Routledge Press, 2020), provides one of the first comprehensive, cross-cultural examinations of the dynamic market for sexual services, an evidence-based look at the multiple factors related to purchasing patterns and demand among clients who have used the internet

As co-author of the book, The State of Sex: Tourism, Sex and Sin in the New American Heartland (Routledge Press, 2010), Brents examines Nevada's brothels and their connection to contemporary tourism. She is also involved in a variety of organizations and projects to promote healthy sexuality and  advocate for the human rights of sex workers.

She is also involved in a variety of organizations and collaborative research projects to promote evidence-based reform to the criminal legal system and prostitution law, promote healthy sexuality, and advocate for sex workers’ human rights.

Her research has been featured in the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Wall Street Journal, Time, Rolling Stone, the Daily Beast, Marketplace, Forbes and Business Week. She is also the author or co-author of publications including "Are Men Who Pay for Sex Sexist? Comparing Client Attitudes on Gender Role Equality in Different Prostitution Markets” in Men and Masculinities, “Violence and Legalized Brothel Prostitution in Nevada” in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence," “The Mainstreaming of the Sex industry: Economic Inclusion and Social Ambivalence” in the Journal of Law & Society and "EXPOsing Men’s Gender-Role Attitudes as Porn Superfans" in Sociological Forum.


  • Ph.D., Sociology, University of Missouri
  • M.A., Sociology, University of Missouri
  • B.A., Journalism, University of Missouri

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Barbara G. Brents In The News

Desert Companion
A feisty couple banks on the colorful history of a Beatty-area brothel drawing visitors to what’s now a regular old bed-and-breakfast
Las Vegas Sun
Transgender adult model Sabina Steele lost her job at Starbucks in July 2020 and had to act quickly to overcome the income loss.
Will OnlyFans survive without its sexual content?
Texas News Today
OnlyFans will ban sexually explicit content from October, especially the material itself that made the platform popular last year.

Articles Featuring Barbara G. Brents

Campus News | September 7, 2021

A collection of news stories highlighting community and perseverance at UNLV.

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Campus News | June 8, 2021

A collection of news stories highlighting celebration, health, and progress at UNLV.

students dance outdoors on UNLV's campus
Campus News | May 11, 2021

A collection of news stories highlighting remembrance, recovery, and progress at UNLV.

vice president kamala harris watches unlv student administer COVID vaccine to another local college student
Campus News | April 14, 2021

A collection of news stories highlighting health, recovery, and celebration at UNLV.