The Good People of Isan: Commercial Sex in Northeast Thailand

Chris Lyttleton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Recent academic literature focusing on prostitution in Thailand has mostly represented it as a singular phenomenon understood by monocausal analyses which rely on varieties of economic or cultural determinism. By contrast, in this paper I seek to tease out how various factors, economic, cultural and personal, operate to provide very different outcomes in individual lives. There are two specific issues that I focus on. Firstly, while most reports on Thai prostitution draw on data from the North, the Northeast region (Isan), where I conducted fieldwork, differs in most important ways in how people interact with and relate to the presence of commercial sex. Secondly, I suggest that we must examine individual choices and motivations implicated in the different contexts in which commercial sex is found, so that we might fruitfully conceptualise the ideologies and social practices that inform prostitution as it evolves in Thailand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-279
Number of pages23
JournalThe Australian Journal of Anthropology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


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