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In fact, Juliette's actions reveal a fundamental truth about the underlying social and economic structures of Sade's universe: the existence of two different groups, one composed of exploiters who are mobile, adaptable and connected, and the other formed by the exploited, who are condemned to a life of suffering and vagabondage. This division is also characteristic of what theorists have called 'modern network economies' and my analysis will explore the continuities between prostitution in Sade's fictional society and the nature of the post-industrial world as described by the French sociologists Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello in a recent study, Ihe New Spirit of Capitalism. I will draw on their description of 'neo-managers' and 'connectionist spaces' as two crucial components of modern capitalism to show how Juliette's identity as a venal body is a function of the social connections that she chooses to pursue. Sade's heroine, in her successive attempts to attract new potential clients and to extract everything she can from them, is depicted as a deft manager of her body and of her relations with other economic actors. Not only does she seem to possess an instinctive knowledge of what drives success in Sade's social world, she also has an uncanny ability to avoid being punished for her crimes. This essay suggests that Juliette's successful negotiation of her adventures shares characteristics with Boltanski and Chiapello's account of those who succeed in advanced capitalist societies, and that libertine modes of behaviour prefigure a number of features of what they designate as network societies.

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Copyright © 2012 Pickering & Chatto Publishers. This chapter first appeared in Prostitution and the Eighteenth-Century Culture: Sex, Commerce and Morality.

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