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Serving people

Wu, M; Del Percio, A; (2019) Serving people. Language, Culture and Society , 1 (2) pp. 194-218. 10.1075/lcs.00016.wu. Green open access

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In this article, we explore the imbrication of service work with consumer markets and larger structures of inequality, including gender and class divides as well as social and economic differences. In line with current sociolinguistic scholarship on language and work, we are interested in the activity of serving people – both in the sense of being or becoming people who serve as well as in the practice of providing services to people. To do so, we offer an ethnographic account of the regime of labor surveillance as well as the daily work practices of female workers at a Starbucks coffeehouse in London, UK. We wonder about how employers organize the bodies of workers into signs, codes and messages that appeal to customers’ class expectations of this type of consumption. By documenting the regimentation and surveillance of labor at Starbucks, we inquire into the prescribed rules that guide ‘proper’ presentations of physicality; further, we ask questions about the mechanism through which the body at Starbucks is made to express its positioning within a structure of labor and its relationality to others, especially customers.

Type: Article
Title: Serving people
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1075/lcs.00016.wu
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1075/lcs.00016.wu
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: body, class, consumer economy, female workers and political economy
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10091408
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