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EMOTIONAL LABOUR AND SEXUAL DIFFERENCE IN THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 2000

Steve Taylor
Affiliation:
School of Social Sciences, University of Teesside, Middlesbrough TS1 3BA, UK
Melissa Tyler
Affiliation:
Department of Social Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, UK
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Abstract

This paper examines service work within the contemporary airline industry which has recently been shaped by managerial initiatives aiming to deliver ‘quality service’. We focus upon the gendered consequences of this. On the basis of original empirical research, three specific arguments are advanced: firstly, recent competitive pressures and accompanying managerial initiatives are intensifying demands upon female employees for the production of emotional labour, subjective commitment to organisational aims and sexual difference within parts of the airline industry; secondly, despite the enormous power of such managerial demands, the ‘spaces’ for female employees to comply, consent and resist remain ‘open’ within the aspects of the industry studied; thirdly, the power of the gendered managerial prescription investigated here is related to the way it is embedded within the structural and inequitable capital-labour relation. The paper is informed by an approach which places the process of gendering inside class relations, and stresses the need to empirically interrogate the historically-specific ‘lived experience’ of gendered power relations in order to adequately analyse and explain such phenomena.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2000 BSA Publications Ltd

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