Barbara G. Brents

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

Biography

Barbara Brents has spent more than 25 years studying political sociology, gender and sexuality, urban sociology, and public sociology. Her research focuses on the sex industry as a way to understand the intersections of culture and economics, political debates around sexuality, the relationship between tourism, consumption, and sexuality, and the emotional and bodily labor of selling sex. 

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. 

Her research has been featured in the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Slate Magazine. Brents is also the author or co-author of publications including “Violence and Legalized Brothel Prostitution in Nevada” in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence; “State Sanctioned Sex: Negotiating Formal and Informal Regulations in Nevada Brothels” in Sociological Perspectives and “Inside Nevada's Brothel System” in Sex for Sale: Prostitution, Pornography, and the Sex Industry

Brents is a founding member of Globalization, Sexuality and the City, an interdisciplinary project and network to encourage the production and dissemination of research on sexuality, culture, and the economics across the globe.

Education

  • 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

Observer
May 11, 2020
For many businesses, coronavirus has been a disaster. Amidst stay-at-home orders and a faltering economy, spending is plummeting and tens of millions of people have lost their jobs. The unprecedented circumstances, however, has led one industry to thrive. A surge in demand for digital sex work means that cam girls are finding that their services are increasingly being sought out as even the most intimate and physical parts of our lives move online.
The Daily Beast
May 4, 2020
When Nevada began shutting down in early March to help control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s legal brothels stayed open. As late as March 17, a day before Governor Steve Sisolak ordered all non-essential businesses closed, the Nevada Brothel Association (NBA) issued guidelines on how to keep operating—safely.
Marketplace
May 1, 2020
Before Maya was a sex worker, she worked in retail. She hated it — long hours on her feet, difficult customers and low pay. Once, while she was making $10 an hour as a sales associate at a women’s clothing store, she had to supervise a group of undocumented immigrants her manager hired to deep clean the entire store.
Las Vegas Sun
April 24, 2020
Sandi Benks has worked at the Love Ranch, a legal, licensed brothel seven miles outside of Carson City, for the past two years. She sees many clients on a regular basis — a relationship she’s been creative in maintaining during the coronavirus pandemic.

Articles Featuring Barbara G. Brents

People preparing to cut ribbon on new Fertitta Complex
Campus NewsNovember 1, 2019
A collection of local, national, and international news stories highlighting the people and programs of UNLV.
hand holding cell phone with social media apps on screen
ResearchJune 7, 2019
UNLV sociology doctoral students study how two politically polarized activist groups use social media to organize and impact legislation.