Chapter

Introduction

Rachel Sherman

in Class Acts

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780520247819
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520939608 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520247819.003.0001
Introduction

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Managers and hospitality literature insist that caring is more important than the physical characteristics of a hotel or its amenities. For many managers, service is the main reason why guests and clients pay as much as one thousand dollars for hotel rooms and suites. In addition, the staff play a crucial role in this enterprise. As one manager commented, “The room helps, the views help, but it's really the people”. Customized contacts with workers are a major part of what the clients are paying for in several luxury sites such as high-end spas, hotels, restaurants, resorts, retail shops, and first-class airline cabins. However, the limited sociological literature on hotels and other service industry organizations has rarely focused on luxury. And few sociologists have investigated luxury sector and luxury services. To understand luxury service, this book offers an ethnography of two luxury hotels. It looks at how managers, guests, and interactive workers negotiate unequal entitlement to resources, recognition, and labor as they produce and consume luxury service. These issues matter for two reasons. First, they are crucial for the better understanding of interactive work and its links to relationships and to selfhood. Second, they are important for the conception of how work is connected to class. These questions are particularly important given the rise of both service work and economic inequality in the United States.

Keywords: hospitality; hotel; service; service industry; luxury sector; luxury services; unequal entitlement

Chapter.  8060 words. 

Subjects: Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility

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