Click here to download

Labour behind consumption. The lived experiences of service workers interacting with customers
Author/s:  Diego Coletto, Giovanna Fullin 
Year:  2018 Issue: 152 Language: English 
Pages:  18 Pg. 25-42 FullText PDF:  111 KB
DOI:  10.3280/SL2018-152002
(DOI is like a bar code for intellectual property: to have more infomation:  clicca qui   and here 

In the service society, costumers’ role is pivotal. This article focuses on worker/ customer interactions and aims at investigating some dimensions of the blurring boundaries between consumption and production focusing on workers’ lived experiences. Drawing on qualitative data from interviews with front line service workers (FLSWs), it sheds lights on two elements - the strength and the multidi-mensionality of human relationships that occur during customer/worker encoun¬ters and the process of self-identification with customers - that can explain why the interaction with customers are cited as positive aspects of the job, even in working contexts where job content is highly standardised, routinised and it is likely to be very alienating. Differently from most of the literature on prosumers, we do not adopt the customer’s perspective, but we investigate instead the point of view of sale assistants, highlighting how and to what extent it can be close to that of customers and for what reasons.
Keywords: Front-line service work, emotional labor, customer/worker relation, service sector, retail, job satisfaction

  1. Bélanger J., Edwards P. (2013). The nature of front-line service work: distinctive feature and continuity in the employment relationship. Work, Employment and Society, 27(3): 433-450.
  2. Bolton S.C. (2005). Emotion Management in the Workplace. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  3. Bolton S.C., Boyd C. (2003). Trolley dolly or skilled emotion manager? Moving on from Hochschild’s Managed Hearth. Work, Employment and Society, 17(2): 289-308., DOI: 10.1177/0950017003017002004.
  4. Bolton S.C., Houlihan M. (2005). The (mis)representation of customer service. Work, Employment and Society, 19(4): 685-703., DOI: 10.1177/0950017005058054.
  5. Bolton S., Houlihan M. (2010). Worker-Manager-Customer Triangle Bermuda Revisited?: Management Power and Powerlessness in the WorkerManager-Customer Triangle. Work & Occupations, 37(3): 378-403., DOI: 10.1177/0730888410375678.
  6. Brown A., Charlwood A., Spencer D.A. (2012). Not all that it might seem: why job satisfaction is worth studying despite it being a poor summary measure of job quality. Work, Employment and Society, 26(6): 1007-1018., DOI: 10.1177/0950017012461837.
  7. Carré F., Tilly C., Van Klaveren M., Voss-Dahm D. (2010). Retail jobs in comparative perspective. In: Gautié J., Schmitt J., eds., Low Wage Work in the Wealthy World (pp. 211-268). New York: Russel Sage Foundation.
  8. Cerruti, G.C. (2010). Lavorare al tempo del cliente nel post-fordismo. Milano: FrancoAngeli.
  9. Cooley C.H. (1902). Human Nature and the Social Order. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
  10. Edwards P. (1986). Conflict at Work: A Materialist Analysis of Workplace Relations. Oxford: Blackwell.
  11. Edwards P. (2010). Developing labour process analysis: themes from industrial sociology and future directions. In: Thompson P., Smith C., eds., Working Life, edited by P. (pp. 29-46). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  12. Eurofound (2012). Working conditions in the retail sector. Dublin: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions.
  13. Gamble J. (2007). The rhetoric of the consumer and customer control in China. Work, Employment and Society, 21(1): 7-25.
  14. Glucksmann M. (2013). Working to consume: consumers as the missing link in the division of labour. Essex University, Cresi working paper, n. 2013-03.
  15. Glucksmann M. (2016). Completing and Complementing: The Work of Consumers in the Division of Labour. Sociology, vol. 50(5): 878-895., DOI: 10.1177/0038038516649553.
  16. Goffman E. (1959). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday Anchor.
  17. Goffman E. (1967). Interaction Ritual. New York: Doubleday Anchor.
  18. Grugulis I., Bozkurt O., eds. (2011). Retail Work. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  19. Hampson I., Junior A. (2010). Putting the process back in: Rethinking service sector skill. Work, Employment and Society, 3(24): 526-45., DOI: 10.1177/0950017010371664.
  20. Hochschild A. (1983). The Managed Heart: The Commercialisation of Human Feeling. Berkeley, CA: The University of California Press.
  21. Huddelston P. (2011). It’s All Right for Saturdays, But Not Forever. The Employment of Part-Time Student Staff within the Retail Sector. In: Grugulis I., Bozkurt O., eds., Retail Work (pp. 109-127). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  22. Humphery K. (1998). Shelf Life. Supermarkets and the Changing Cultures of Consumption. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  23. Korczynski M. (2009a). The Mystery Customer: Continuing Absences in the Sociology of Service Work. Sociology, 43(5): 952-967., DOI: 10.1177/0038038509340725.
  24. Korczynski M. (2009b). Understanding the contradictory lived experience of service work. The customer-oriented bureaucracy. In: Korczynski M., Macdonald C.L., eds., Service work. A critical perspective (pp. 73-90). New York: Routledge.
  25. Korczynski M. (2013). The customer in the sociology of work: different ways of going beyond the management-worker dyad. Work, Employment and Society, 0(0): 1-7., DOI: 10.1177/0950017012464424.
  26. Korczynski M., Mcdonald C.L. (2008). Service Work: Critical Perspectives. New York: Routledge.
  27. Leidner R. (1993). Fast Food, Fast Talk. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  28. Lopez S.H. (2006). Emotional labor and emotional performance. Work & Occupations, 33(2): 133-160.
  29. Lopez S.H. (2010). Workers, Managers, and Customers: Triangles of power in work communities. Work & Occupations, 37(3): 251-271., DOI: 10.1177/0730888410375683.
  30. Mead G.H. (1934). Mind, Self and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  31. Misra J., Walters K. (2016). All Fun and Cool Clothes? Youth Workers’ Consumer Identity in Clothing Retail. Work & Occupations, online first. DOI 10.1177/0730888416644949.
  32. OECD (2005). Growing in Services. Paris: OECD Publications.
  33. Pettinger L. (2004). Brand culture and branded workers: service work and aesthetic labour in fashion retail. Consumption, Markets and Culture, 7(2): 165-184., DOI: 10.1080/1025386042000246214.
  34. Ritzer G. (2001). Explorations in the Sociology of Consumption. Fast Food, Credit Cards and Casino. London: Sage.
  35. Ritzer G (2014). Prosumption: Evolution, revolution, or eternal return of the same? Journal of Consumer Culture, 14(1): 3-24., DOI: 10.1177/1469540513509641.
  36. Sallaz J.J. (2015). Permanent pedagogy: How post-Fordist firms generate effort but not consent. Work & Occupations, 42(1): 3-34., DOI: 10.1177/0730888414551207.
  37. Toffler A. (1980). The third wave. New York, NY: William Morrow.
  38. Walters S. (2005). Making the best of a bad job? Female part-timers’ orientations and attitudes to work. Gender, Work and Organisation, 12(3): 193-216.
  39. Warhurst C, Nickson D. (2007). A new labour aristocracy? Aesthetic labour and routine interactive service. Work, Employment and Society, 21(4): 785-798., DOI: 10.1177/095001700708288

Diego Coletto, Giovanna Fullin, in "SOCIOLOGIA DEL LAVORO " 152/2018, pp. 25-42, DOI:10.3280/SL2018-152002


FrancoAngeli is a member of Publishers International Linking Association a not for profit orgasnization wich runs the CrossRef service, enabing links to and from online scholarly content