Attacking the Cultural Turn: Misrepresentations of the Service Encounter

Taylor, Steve (2002) Attacking the Cultural Turn: Misrepresentations of the Service Encounter. Sociological Research Online, 7 (1). ISSN 1360-7804

Full text not available from this repository. (Request a copy)
Official URL: http://www.socresonline.org.uk/7/1/taylor.html

Abstract

Service work is often (mis)represented within western sociology through hyperbolic language, as its increasing incidence and changing character is seen as symptomatic of profound social change. This paper argues that many recent empirical investigations into, and the dominant representations of, the service encounter (employment involving employee-customer interaction which is represented as a particularly 'new' form of work) exaggerate its novelty as 'cultural' work. Through a critical analysis of some recent empirical accounts of the service encounter and drawing upon one example from the author's own ethnographic research into service encounters within north- eastern England, it is argued that the dominant representations over-emphasise the cultural, and underplay both the economic and gendered, dynamics of the employment experience. More specifically, we argue that it is the active combination of 'the economic' and 'the cultural' - the way in which gendered demands for employees to develop particular norms, values, personalities and identities are embedded within inequitable economic relationships - which can shape the employment experience of service employees. Dominant representations of the service encounter also reject the contemporary relevance of 'traditional' industrial sociological analyses of employment relations. However, given the weak empirical foundations of 'the cultural turn', we argue that this contention cannot be supported. In fact, it is suggested that many 'traditional' industrial sociological analyses precisely examine the interplay between economic, gendered and cultural relations and therefore continue to have relevance for understanding contemporary employment. Finally, our arguments are located within debates about the cultural turn within the wider sociological discipline.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Class Relations; Cultural Turn; Employment; Gendered Emotional Labour; Representation; Service Encounter; Service Work; Structural Dynamics; Subjectivity
Subjects: L300 Sociology
N100 Business studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Social Sciences & Languages
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2016 09:48
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2016 09:48
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/26600

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics


Policies: NRL Policies | NRL University Deposit Policy | NRL Deposit Licence