Communication ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-15-2019


This dissertation project is a critical discourse analysis of written and visual texts produced for GPGuiaDelas, a Brazilian sex worker Twitter feed. Drawing on digital labor studies, feminist studies on sex work, and Brazilian studies on race and gender, 176 Twitter conversations between sex workers and clients were analyzed in order to answer the following: (1) What are the dominant themes in the discourse about sex work constructed through microblogging on social media?; (2) What are the discursive practices of sex workers who use social media as a platform?; and (3) What theoretical insights emerge from the analysis of sex workers’ discourse on social media?

The analysis revealed three orders of discourse: economic, relational, and identity. The economic order of discourse highlights how sex workers are required to perform unpaid labor through digital media spaces. The relational order of discourse centers on the interpersonal affective labor sex workers execute. The identity order of discourse posits that sex workers appeal to available racial-sexual-gendered tropes within Brazil’s complex spectrum of racial, gender, and sexual ideologies in order to be legible and attract clients. This study also reveals how the architecture of Twitter enables discursive practices of power negotiation.

I argue for forefronting sex workers’ voices in communication and media studies; blending theoretical lenses, and for giving close attention to the ways in which sex workers enact power within multiple systems of marginalization in Brazil. This study contributes to digital labor and media studies, communication studies, Brazilian studies, and feminist scholarship on sex work.




Brazil, sex work, sex workers, Twitter, critical discourse analysis, digital labor

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Ilia Rodriguez

Second Committee Member

Dr. Marco Briziarelli

Third Committee Member

Dr. Myra Washington

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Jaelyn deMaria

Fifth Committee Member

Dr. Thaddeus Blanchette