My Book

I am the author of Dominatrix: Gender, Eroticism, and Control in the Dungeon (University of Chicago Press, 2012).  Based on in-depth interviews with sixty-six women who work as professional dominatrices in New York City and San Francisco, the book focuses–as all of my work does–on the ways in which a non-normative social space can shed light on the contours of American society more generally.  While the realm of the professional dominatrix may appear to be an exotic corner of the social landscape, detached from everyday processes, the dominatrix’s dungeon can actually teach us more about a set of classic tensions at the heart of our daily lives: between professional and client, dominator and dominated, artist and customer, purist and commercialist, researcher and informant, man and woman, and subversion and conformity.

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Here’s what others are saying about Dominatrix:

Dominatrix has vibrant passages of sparkling writing that demonstrate Lindemann’s talent and promise as a culture critic.”  -Camille Paglia, Review in The Chronicle of Higher Education

“With such careful scholarship and nuanced study, Lindemann demonstrates that we can learn a good deal about our familiar social world by peering into strange ones.”  -Ashley Mears, Review in the American Journal of Sociology

“Dominatrix is an interesting, well-written, and important study on, not just pro-dommes and their clients, but also gender, power, work, art, and play.  I can see this book on sexuality and gender syllabi, but I would also encourage consideration in courses on employment.” -Mimi Schippers, Review in Gender & Society

“In the tradition of the great occupational ethnographies, Danielle J. Lindemann takes us into professional dominatrices’ worlds and shows us, with graceful and consistently engaging prose, how the women she studied build careers, negotiate with clients, and develop accounts that make sense of their work and of the relationships it entails. Dominatrix has much to teach us about gender and sexuality, but it is equally a contribution to the sociology of culture, illustrating the ways in which creative workers employ criteria of distinction and modes of self-understanding shared with members of high-status art worlds to assert authority over clients and claim status within their profession.”—Paul DiMaggio, Princeton University

“In wonderfully evocative vignettes and provocative analyses, Danielle J. Lindemann’s stunning ethnographic study of professional dominatrices shows just how much supposed deviance has to tell us about the normal, the ordinary, and the everyday. Theoretically innovative and methodologically perceptive, Lindemann’s work shows a sociological imagination at its most engaging.”—Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, Columbia University

Dominatrix is a must-read for anyone interested in sociology, sex, pleasure, pain, work, or gender, but this isn’t just a book about gender and power. It’s also an occupational study rooted in the venerable tradition of Everett Hughes and his colleagues and protégés of the Chicago School of Sociology. This is sociology—and the exercise of the sociological imagination—at its finest.”—Greg Scott, DePaul University

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