Barb Brents
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Barb Brents, Ph.D.

Professor of Sociology

CBC-B 210


Barb Brents specializes in political sociology, gender and sexuality. Brents’ research uses a political economy lens to study sex and gender in neoliberal market culture. Her recent work uses the sex industry as a site to understand the intersections of culture and economics — including the construction of “market morality” in political debates around sexuality; the relation between tourism, consumption and sexuality; the emotional and bodily labor of selling sex; and consuming sex. She is involved in a number of collaborative projects with colleagues at UNLV, the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia exploring sexual commerce and consumption and the politics and regulation of sexuality. Past research also has explored intersections of politics, culture, economics, and gender looking at topics such as the politics of terrorism and violence, business and social policies and social sustainability in Las Vegas.  Her research has been published in the American Sociological Review, Sexualities, Sociological Perspectives, the Journal of Interpersonal Violence, Sexuality Research and Social Policy, the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, and Social Science and Medicine.

Brents’ work has been featured in the New York Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Slate Magazine, and she has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Time, Rolling Stone and Business Week. Brents received the Nevada Regents Outstanding Graduate Advisor award, the UNLV Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award and the UNLV Alumni Faculty Award.  In 2014 she received the UNLV College of Liberal Arts, Donald Schmiedel Lifetime Service Award and the 2015 University of Missouri Noel P. Gist Distinguished Alumni Award.  She also served National Board of the American Civil Liberties Union and as the Nevada State ACLU President.

Recent Courses Taught

  • SOC 449 — Sex and Social Arrangements
  • SOC 453 — Gender and Society
  • SOC 750 — Seminar in the Sociology of Sex
  • SOC 776 — Seminar in Political Sociology
  • SOC 748 — Gender, Sex & Society
  • SOC 774 — Seminar in Feminist Theories & Research

Current Research Projects

  • Adult Industry Consumption
    Brents is engaged in several projects examining adult industry consumption in contemporary culture to better understand consumers of legal and illegal prostitution, and the relation between tourism and adult industry commerce. She is heading a research team collecting data about sex work clientele through two surveys of adult industry consumption: the online confidential UNLV Consumer Survey for clients of sex workers, and a survey of attendees at the Adult Entertainment Expo lin Las Vegas.
  • Globalization and the Sexual Economy
    This interdisciplinary project builds networks to encourage the production and dissemination of research on the intersections of sexuality, culture, and economics. Scholars and activists from across the globe have collaborated with faculty and students in UNLV Sociology, and we encourage further networks for sharing research on the intersections of globalization and sexual commerce.
  • Nevada Brothel Industry
    She continues to be involved in collaborative research to explore the politics, culture, organization, and labor of Nevada's legal brothel industry. The research is represented in several publications, including the book The State of Sex (Routledge, 2010).