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Title: Behind the scenes : an ethnographic study of a working kitchen
Author: Stephenson, Sara Anne
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2012
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During the latter half of the 20th century, many towns and cities throughout the UK have faced processes of deindustrialisation. These developments have drastically changed the cultural and social landscapes of many locales and populations. The most notable shift, particularly in the North East of England, has been the transformation from labour markets dominated by coal and other forms of heavy industry to one typified by insecure service sector employment. The hospitality industry is one that now dominates and although aspects of this service industry have received much academic attention of late, very few have focused on what happens behind the scenes. This study seeks to rectify this. Based on the result of an ethnographic study of a working kitchen in a relatively exclusive hotel in the North East of England, it explores a particular overlooked sub-section of the contemporary British workforce, who are part of one of the largest industries in Western society. The study shows what working life is like within a contemporary hotel kitchen by situating the lives of these kitchen workers within the new economy and juxtaposing the harsh realities of backstage kitchen life with the ever-present image of indulgent consumption that frames the front stage location of the hotel. It aims to explore the different pleasures that are included with the purchase of ‘a meal’ and by taking a critical look at the consumerised dining experience, provides a concrete setting on which to compare the backstage environment of the kitchen. Furthermore, it details the intricacies of working in contemporary service employment in the ‘neo-capitalist’ economy, the drudgeries of kitchen life and the realities of cooking as a practical activity, as well as exploring the working relations, identities, status hierarchies and social ties of this environment.
Supervisor: Manning, Nathan Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available