Farewell to the organization man: The feminization of loyalty in high-end and low-end service jobs

Karla Erickson, Jennifer L. Pierce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Utilizing data from two ethnographic case studies, one of high-end service workers in a powerful corporate law firm (paralegals) and another of low-end service workers in a small family-run restaurant (food servers), this article presents a comparative analysis of the consequences of the transformation of the US economy and accompanying changes in the culture(s) of work for women and men and specifically of the meanings of loyalty in our contemporary service society. Drawing from the cultural repertoires available, women and men make gendered sense of loyalty. Women, the vast majority of workers in these two jobs, tell stories of investment in their jobs and personal loyalty to their co-workers, customers, and bosses. But men mobilize their masculinity to detach their sense of self from perceived feminized work, seeing themselves as occupational transients who are on their way to more appropriate careers or, in the case of waiters, rejecting narratives of professional masculinity in defiance of the unsatisfying occupational landscape available to them as working-class men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-313
Number of pages31
JournalEthnography
Volume6
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2005

Keywords

  • emotionallabor
  • gender
  • loyalty
  • paralegals
  • servicework
  • waitresses

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