1st Edition

Service Work
Critical Perspectives

ISBN 9780415953177
Published August 20, 2008 by Routledge
216 Pages

USD $52.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Everyday, we are bombarded with advertising images of the smiling service worker. The book is written with the aim of focusing beneath the surface of these fairy tale images, to seek out and understand the reality of service workers’ experience. Within the sociology of work and related literatures, there are an increasing number of empirical studies of different types of service work, but there has been little progress in attempts to theorize the nature of service work, per se. This book fills this gap by bringing together major scholars from the US and UK who use a range of critical perspectives to explore key elements in the organization and experience of contemporary service work. It will make an invaluable secondary text for advanced undergraduates and graduates studying courses/modules such as sociology of work, industrial sociology, social theory and work, organization studies, and organizational theory.

Table of Contents

1. Critical Perspectives on Service Work: An Introduction, Marek Korczynski and Cameron Macdonald 2. Chaplin’s Modern Times: Service Work, Authenticity, and Nonsense at the Red Moon Café 3.The Globalization of Nothing and the Outsourcing of Service Work 4. The Disneyization of Society 5. Understanding the Contradictory Lived Experience of Service Work: The Customer-Oriented Bureaucracy 6. Labor Process Theory: Putting the Materialism Back into the Meaning of Service Work 7. Intersectionality in the Emotional Proletariat: A New Lens on Employment Discrimination in Service Work 8. The Globalization of Care 9. The Promise of Service Worker Unionism 10. Conclusion - Latte Capitalism and Late Capitalism: Reflections on Fantasy and Care as Part of the Service Triangle

View More



Marek Korczynski is Professor of Sociology of Work at Loughborough University. He is the author of On the Front Line: Organization of Work in the Information Economy, co-authored with Steve Frenkel, Karen Shrine, and May Tam, Social Theory at Work, co-edited with Randy Hodson and Paul Edwards, and Human Resource Management in Service Work (Palgave MacMillan 2002).

Cameron Macdonald is Assistant Professor in the Sociology Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is the author of Shadow Mothers: Nannies, Au Pairs, and the Micropolitics of Mothering, and Working in the Service Society  (co-edited with Carmen Sirianni).


Service work is the future and the future is here. Our concepts for understanding work, however, are still deeply tied to the industrial workplace. Service Work moves us decisively toward our future by its keen development of such concepts as authenticity, emotion work, constructed realities (think "Disney Princesses"), the service triangle and the control and exploitation of consumers. These are the concepts of the future for the study of work. – Randy Hodson, Editor, American Sociological Review

This collection sparkles with insight and dispute - exactly what a critical text should do.   Top-flight authors bring fresh light to the now all-pervasive, grassroots, service economy. It is where frontliners are employed to 'serve' with a literal or virtual smile; to be concerned or caring; to simultaneously please both employer and customer.   With different tools, the contributors dig beneath the surface of this world to reveal its assumptions, tensions, contradictions and possibilities.   This is a key book, not just for critical organizational theorists, but for any student who feels curious or uneasy about the seemingly unstoppable growth of service work.— Stephen Fineman, School of Management, University of Bath