What do we mean when we say transactional sex? Rebecca Fielding-Miller

Transactional sex is an important driver of the HIV epidemic, but one that is difficult to measure and address. This study used cultural consensus modelling, a measurement approach borrowed from cultural anthropology, to identify three distinct models of transactional sex in Swaziland:

  • a rural model composed of slightly older women with slightly lower education
  • an urban model predominated by relatively well educated women
  • a model primarily practised by university students

The cultural consensus model process resulted in a weighted scale that could be used to measure the degree to which a clinic-based sample of women participated in each of the three models.

This webinar discusses important ramifications of the social acceptability of the model for the strategies women used to protect themselves from HIV within their relationships. 

Dr Rebecca Fielding-Miller is a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Global Public Health at the University of California, San Diego.  She is a social scientist who blends ethnographic and statistical approaches to understand structural drivers of HIV and gender based violence in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa. Dr Fielding-Miller is a founding member of the Swaziland AIDS Research Network.

Download the pdf of the presentation here.

Read Dr Fielding-Miller’s paper Cultural consensus modeling to measure transactional sex in Swaziland: Scale building and validation.

Note on definitions

An 'emic' account is a description of behaviour or a belief in terms meaningful (consciously or unconsciously) to the actor; that is, an emic account comes from a person within the culture. Almost anything from within a culture can provide an emic account.

An 'etic' account is a description of a behaviour or belief by a social analyst or scientific observer (a student or scholar of anthropology or sociology, for example), in terms that can be applied across cultures; that is, an etic account attempts to be 'culturally neutral', limiting any ethnocentric, political, and/or cultural bias or alienation by the observer.

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