PJ Patella-Rey research focuses on the intersections of digital technology, labor, and sexuality. He has studied classic and contemporary social theory, in depth, with his advisor, George Ritzer. His MA thesis interrogated whether Marx’s classic concepts of alienation and exploitation continue to be applicable to production done via social media, while his dissertation explores the work done, relationships formed, and issues faced by cam models and other online sex workers. He is co-founder of the Cyborgology blog and the Theorizing the Web conference.


"Camming Performers' Perspectives on Digitally Mediated Sex Work"

The term "sex camming" describes live, video-streamed performances that are interactive and include sexual content. But, despite the fact that a growing number of people are working on or visiting these sites (which now gross $1 billion annually or more than 20% of total pornography industry revenues), little social scientific research has been conducted to understand the nature, conditions, or implications of camming for cam models, their audience, or society more broadly. Through interviews and auto-ethnography, I explore three distinct sets of questions: First, I consider nature of sex cam models’ work—both on screen and off screen—as well as how it factors into their lives and other forms of work they may do. I suggest that online sex work is illustrative of how labor is shifting more broadly in the digital age, raising questions about the normalization of gig work and the undervaluation of emotional labor. Second, by determining if/how these technologically-mediated performances foster social bonds and intimacy (that viewers may be lacking in other aspects of their life), I aim to advance our knowledge of the ways technology can be used to mitigate social isolation. Third, by understanding how cam models think about privacy and controlling the circulation of their images—even as they are highly exposed in certain contexts—I offer insight into the way digital technology contributes to shifts in privacy norms/concepts. More practically, I will identify strategies cam models use to keep information bounded to a specific context so that it does not leak into other contexts where it may be harmful.

Areas of Interest

  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Technology and Privacy
  • Digital Labor
  • Social Theory
  • Qualitative Methodology


  • MA
    Continental Philosophy. Duquesne University
  • MA
    Sociology. University of Maryland
PJ Rey headshot
1114 Art/Sociology Building
Department of Sociology
pjrey [at] umd.edu