I'm a Waitress Not a Dancer: Emotion Work Among Clothed Employees




Bailey, Elizabeth L.

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Fifteen waitresses were interviewed to explore emotional labor processes in a strip club environment. In-depth, one-on-one interviews were conducted to examine how a waitress’s decision to work in a strip club influences her sense of self, and her management of emotions while on the job. Employing place claiming techniques, distancing tactics, and by alternating between true and false self displays these waitresses are constantly negotiating an identity they can feel proud of. Due to their freedom from organizationally imposed display norms, these clothed employees have a choice of when, with whom, and to what extent they employ emotion work techniques. Waitresses in this study consistently do service for regulars, and for new customers that tip them well, but refrain from it with customers who do not tip, who touch them inappropriately, and when specifically requested to. Overall, these women maintain a sense of self they feel proud of because they do not remove their clothing, and make good money anyway. By employing emotional labor techniques when they choose, and by only doing so with customers whose impressions follow their own individual and situationally determined guidelines, these fifteen women show that the environment they choose to work in does have a significant influence over how they do emotional labor.



waitresses, work, sex role in the work environment, personality and emotions, psychological aspects


Bailey, E. L. (2005). I'm a waitress not a dancer: Emotion work among clothed employees (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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