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The Politics of Service Production: Experiences of Low-Waged Hospitality Work in London

Cole, Matthew Richard (2018) The Politics of Service Production: Experiences of Low-Waged Hospitality Work in London. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Matthew Cole PhD 2018 - The Politics of Service Production.pdf - Final eThesis - complete (pdf)
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This thesis aims to explore the experiences of London hospitality workers through interrogating the nature and politics of the production of a commodified experience. The production and consumption of experience as a commodity is growing on a global scale. However, research on the labour process that contributes to such experiences is both theoretically and empirically underdeveloped. Theoretically, labour process approaches have largely abandoned the labour theory of value, which grounds Marxist political economy and systemic value-form analysis. Empirically, the literature on hospitality work tends to focus on the minutia of employment relations and customer engagement rather than taking a more totalising approach that examines the resultant tensions of the capital-labour relation. This study aims to address these gaps. Methodologically, the research uses a dialectical materialist approach to case-study research. It analyses triangulated data from ethnographic participant observation at three locations, 35 interviews with workers and managers, and company documents from 16 hotels and six agencies. Hospitality workers’ perspectives provide vital insights into the dynamics of the labour market and labour process in service work as well as the broader tendencies of contemporary capitalism by illuminating what is happening on the ground. Through workers’ narratives, the research provides an examination of how contractual and social divisions in the labour market limit workers’ mobility in the labour process. It contributes to analyses of the interconnected nature of service production, how the role of the customer mediates the frontier of control and the triangulated nature of the effort bargain. The study also an empirical revelation by documenting highly exploitative practices by managers and linking them to the structural imperatives of the valorisation process. Finally, the research offers insights into a new terrain of worker organisation and struggle against managers through the solidarity of the customer. Through analysing these themes with a value-form analytic, this thesis offers major theoretical and empirical contributions to labour process and employment relations research on hospitality work.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Labour Process Theory, Marx, Political Economy of Work, Hospitality Work, Service Work, Commodification, Exploitation, Value-Form, Labour Theory of Value, Wage Theft
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Leeds University Business School
The University of Leeds > Leeds University Business School > Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management (Leeds)
Depositing User: Dr Matthew Cole
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2019 13:38
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2019 13:38
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23069

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