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Dishing It Out: Power and Resistance Among Waitresses in a New Jersey Restaurant (Women In The Political Economy)


Publisher:Temple University Press



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About the book:

This study challenges the uncritical equation of advancement with success. As a participant observer at a family-style restaurant in New Jersey, Greta Paules reveals the strategies that experienced waitresses employ to improve their own positions rather than aspiring toward management. Through the voices of some aggressive, determined, tough, and resilient women, Paules confronts stereotypical characterizations of waitresses. Paules finds that certain unique features of the restaurant industry the tipping system, chaotic work environment, chronic shortages of labor and supplies, and the manager's role as a fill-in man allow waitresses to manipulate their work environment to protect their own interests. The downgrading of the managerial role in this restaurant has rendered advancement meaningless. Knowing that the 'help wanted' sign is permanently posted, the waitresses refuse to submit to management's dictates, to 'take junk' from rude or hostile customers, or to internalize the negative self-image usually associated with waitressing. The colorful and often amusing comments by the women Paules interviewed indicate that they have developed an arsenal of subtle but undeniably effective tactics to combat the exploitive elements of the job, to maximize tips, and to secure the boss' attention to their needs. Greta Foff Paules is a cultural anthropologist who holds a doctorate from Princeton University.

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