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Title: The politics of service production : experiences of low-waged hospitality work in London
Author: Cole, Matthew Richard
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis aims to explore the experiences of London hospitality workers through interrogating the nature and politics of the production of a commodified experience. The production and consumption of experience as a commodity is growing on a global scale. However, research on the labour process that contributes to such experiences is both theoretically and empirically underdeveloped. Theoretically, labour process approaches have largely abandoned the labour theory of value, which grounds Marxist political economy and systemic value-form analysis. Empirically, the literature on hospitality work tends to focus on the minutia of employment relations and customer engagement rather than taking a more totalising approach that examines the resultant tensions of the capital-labour relation. This study aims to address these gaps. Methodologically, the research uses a dialectical materialist approach to case-study research. It analyses triangulated data from ethnographic participant observation at three locations, 35 interviews with workers and managers, and company documents from 16 hotels and six agencies. Hospitality workers' perspectives provide vital insights into the dynamics of the labour market and labour process in service work as well as the broader tendencies of contemporary capitalism by illuminating what is happening on the ground. Through workers' narratives, the research provides an examination of how contractual and social divisions in the labour market limit workers' mobility in the labour process. It contributes to analyses of the interconnected nature of service production, how the role of the customer mediates the frontier of control and the triangulated nature of the effort bargain. The study also an empirical revelation by documenting highly exploitative practices by managers and linking them to the structural imperatives of the valorisation process. Finally, the research offers insights into a new terrain of worker organisation and struggle against managers through the solidarity of the customer. Through analysing these themes with a value-form analytic, this thesis offers major theoretical and empirical contributions to labour process and employment relations research on hospitality work.
Supervisor: Spencer, David ; Hardy, Kate ; Stuart, Mark Sponsor: Leeds University Business School
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available