Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Sociology and Anthropology: Sociology

First Advisor

Jason Whitesel


Young college-age women have increasingly been using online sex work as a popular avenue to raise capital. I explored the experiences of women undergraduate students who engage in self-produced sex work online. In particular, this study examines the experiences of college women who turned to the online platform, OnlyFans, a mainstream adult entertainment platform that has allowed many college women to earn an income and fund their university costs, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, by posting explicit pictures and videos onto the OnlyFans platform. This study identifies interpretative narratives used by undergraduate women in the U.S. to make sense of their labor as sex workers within capitalist relations. The goal is to move towards strategies that would combat the capitalist exploitation of online sex work. I conducted this study through online social research methods, collecting fieldnote data and semi-structured interviews of industry participants. The results of the study contribute to contemporary feminist literature and sociological research regarding online sex work. Findings yield that OnlyFans creators understand the platform to be a site of labor exploitation as depicted through their chronicling of the platform’s plans to ban sexually explicit content. Further results of this study yield that college undergraduate students are motivated to create OnlyFans accounts out of economic necessity, compounded by increased hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic and the high costs associated with obtaining a college education in the United States. As part of the digital gig economy, unpaid labor is essential to the success of the OnlyFans platform. Creators perform unpaid labor through tasks involved in the content creation process and account promotion across social media platforms. Additionally, OnlyFans creators utilize both surface-acting and deep-acting aspects of emotional labor during the creation of content and while interacting with subscribers. Finally, the virtual community of OnlyFans creators acts as resistance to exploitation within the digital gig economy.


Imported from Ebersole_ilstu_0092N_12391.pdf


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