Barb Brents is a professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  She is a co-author of The State of Sex: Tourism, Sex and Sin in the New American Heartland (Routledge Press, 2010).

Brents’ research and teaching interests include political sociology, gender and sexuality, urban sociology, and public sociology.  Brents is also a faculty affiliate in the Gender and Sexuality Studies program at UNLV.  She teaches undergraduate classes on Principles of Sociology (online on WebCampus), Sociology of Gender, Sex and Social Arrangements, and graduate level seminars in Political Sociology and the Sociology of Sexuality.

Brents is heading a research team collecting data about sex work clientele through a confidential online survey of adult industry consumption: UNLV Consumer Survey.  The purpose of this study is to better understand consumers of legal and illegal prostitution, and the relation between tourism and adult industry commerce.  The confidential online survey will ask basic information, attitudes and beliefs, and adult industry consumption patterns.  Many of these question allow us to compare consumer attitudes and behaviors to those of the rest of the population. Please help us spread the word!

Brents’ research uses a political economy lens to study sex and gender in market culture. Her recent work uses the sex industry as a site to understand the intersections of culture and economics -- including the construction of “market morality” in political debates around sexuality; the relation between tourism, consumption and sexuality; the emotional and bodily labor of selling sex; and consuming sex.

Brents is a founding member of  Globalization, Sexuality and the City,  an interdisciplinary project and network to encourage the production and dissemination of research on the intersections of sexuality, culture and economics across the globe. The project regularly brings together graduate students and faculty at UNLV whose research intersects with globalization and sexuality, including scholars in the Sociology Department, Gender & Sexuality Studies, History, Boyd School of Law and Hotel Administration. The project has brought renowned sex industry researchers to UNLV including Teela Sanders and Laura Agustìn.   The Globalization, Sexuality and the City project received support to conduct a study of adult entertainment and tourism and has published research with scholars in the U.K, EU and Australia.

Brents also studies the political economy of consumer cultures through a multi-year study of sustainability and community in Las Vegas.  The Las Vegas Metropolitan Area Social Survey was a collaborative project with the LVMASS team, the Southern Nevada Regional Planning Commission, and the City of Las Vegas.  The project gathered neighborhood level data on the attitudes, knowledge, and opinions of Las Vegas residents on neighborhood, environmental, and social sustainability issues.

Past research has also explored intersections of politics, culture, economics and gender looking at topics such as the politics of terrorism and violence, and business and social policies.

Brents’ work has been featured in the New York Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, and Slate Magazine, and she has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal and Business Week.  Brents received the Nevada Regents Outstanding Graduate Advisor award, the UNLV Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award and the UNLV Alumni Faculty Award for Academic Excellence and Student Focus.
She received the UNLV College of Liberal Arts, Donald Schmiedel Lifetime Service Award and University of Missouri Noel P. Gist Distinguished Alumni Award.

The Southern Nevada Women’s Political Caucus awarded her the Good Gal Award.  Brents was named one of 256 women who have made a difference in 100 years of Las Vegas History, the “Wall of Women.”  She has served on the Council for the Political Sociology section of the ASA.  She also served National Board of the American Civil Liberties Union and as the Nevada State ACLU President.


Barb Brents studies sexuality, gender and politics in market culture.

Recent writing

  1. Nevada’s Legal Brothels Make Workers Feel Safer, New York Times, Room for Debate opinion.

  2. Sex Work in Sin City. Contexts.

Frequent Links

  1. Globalization, Sexuality & the City

  2. UNLV library

  3. UNLV faculty info

  4. ASA (American Sociological Association)

  5. SSSP (Society for the Study of Social Problems)

  6. NSF Sociology program

  7. SSSS (Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality)

  8. SWS (Sociologists for Women in Society)

  9. NSRC Dialogues

  10. National Sexuality Research Center


Department of Sociology

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Las Vegas, NV 89154-5033


Barb Brents