Continued economic restructuring has brought service work to center stage in labor and management studies, as well as in the sociology of work, gender, race, and inequality. Because the idioms of service have become so central to our public interaction, the everyday struggles for recognition and respect in the service workplace have become integral to the very meaning of democratic citizenship in contemporary America. This volume brings together some of the most important and engaging writing on service work. Based on rich ethnographic and case study material, the essays explore questions of power and control, resistance and empowerment, and innovation and organizing in the lives of front-line service workers.Cases are drawn from a broad range of occupations, including fast foods, clerical and paralegal work, domestic work and nannies, and direct sales, and from organizational settings, ranging from McDonald's to Harvard University to the suburban home.
The problems of organizing and new models of unionism are analyzed in the context of women's work culture, multiracial workplaces, contingent and part-time work, and participatory innovations to improve service and experience of work simultaneously. Author note: Cameron Lynne Macdonald teaches social studies at Harvard University. Carmen Sirianni is Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University.