Reflections on the inclusion of experiential knowledge within participatory research into male sex work.

A. van den Dries, C. Boutsias, F. van Oorschot

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


At the request of the municipality of Rotterdam, the NGO Stichting Humanitas undertook participatory research on boys and men that do sex work in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. This demographic often goes unnoticed in interventions by public institutions or social work organizations. The research focused on discovering common characteristics and potential vulnerabilities this group faces. Furthermore, it assessed their needs in terms of support and assistance (Van den Dries, Boutsias & Van
Oorschot, 2021).

Participatory research uses various knowledge sources such as propositional knowledge, practical knowledge, and experiential knowledge in the form of lived experiences (Groot, Haveman & Abma, 2020). The research team employed experiential knowledge of sex work, experiential knowledge of the Rotterdam LGBTIQAP+ queer community, propositional knowledge from the discourse on sex work, and social work research supplemented by practical knowledge from the social work practice of outreach and support to sex workers.

It has been known that different forms and interpretations of participatory (action) research exist, where, to a greater or lesser extent, similar principles and practices are followed (Dedding et al., 2020). In this contribution, the researchers focus on the lessons learned in this research project on inclusion and power division. They collectively reflect on the extent to which the perspective of experiential knowledge was maximized, which voices were valued and heard and how power balances were divided. Concepts from Power Literacy by Goodwill (2020) are used as a framework.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication11th European Conference for Social Work Research
PublisherEuropean Social Work Research Association
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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