Recasting Hierarchy

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:
Recasting Hierarchy

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This chapter focuses on the workers' discourses and practices related to social hierarchies. Workers invoke several symbolic rankings vis-à-vis their co-workers, the guests they serve, and their communities outside the hotel. Workers situate themselves favorably in relation to these other interlocutors, using strategies of comparison and judgment that draw on whatever advantages they can glean from their own work situations. First, the chapter shows that workers considered themselves as superior to their peers. In addition to the comparisons related to competence described in the last chapter, workers emphasized the perks associated with their jobs. Second, the chapter discusses how workers coded themselves as above the guests through disdain and negative judgment of them. They also combined strategies of status and judgment by symbolically limiting the guests' entitlement to stay in the hotel. Workers created this repertoire collectively, introducing new workers to appropriate ways to think about themselves and discourses to use in presenting themselves and others. However, at the same time, these comparisons individualized guests and workers by highlighting personal traits and behaviors.

Keywords: workers's discourses; workers's practices; social hierarchies; workers; status; judgment; entitlement

Chapter.  11222 words. 

Subjects: Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility

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