Reciprocity, Relationship, and Revenge

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:
Reciprocity, Relationship, and Revenge

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This chapter analyzes the imperative of worker subordination as it plays out in worker-guest interactions and relationships. Building on the finding that guests treat workers quite well, the chapter shows that workers adhere to and enforce an implicit contract according to which their labors entitle them to emotional and financial reciprocity from guests. When guests fail to meet workers' expectations, however, workers limit their own self-subordination in both practical and symbolic ways. Guests likewise articulate a sense of contract, describing their own rights and responsibilities vis-à-vis workers. In part, their reciprocal behavior stems from the generalized social norm of reciprocity, but it also arises from expectations constructed in the hotel. These relations are the cornerstone of normalizing guests' entitlement to workers' labor, because both workers and guests endeavor to see themselves as equal individuals.

Keywords: worker subordination; worker-guest interactions; worker-guest relationships; reciprocity; reciprocal behavior

Chapter.  14700 words. 

Subjects: Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility

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