Aesthetic labor in hospitality Essay Paper

Aesthetic labor in hospitality
Aesthetic labor in hospitality

Aesthetic labor in hospitality

Order Instructions:

the essay should answer the following with a focus placed on the hospitality industry:

What is meant by the term aesthetic labour? Identify an interactive service occupation and discuss why the industry recruits feminized labour oftentimes with intersecting identities (e.g. age, class,racialised background)? Do these workers experience discrimination (e.g.double-standards sexual harassment) in their occupation? Explain why this

references to be used in the essay

Employee experience of aesthetic labour in retail and hospitality by: Chris Warhurst & Dennis Nickson

the “Right” Person for the Job: Exploring the Aesthetics of about within the Events Industry by: Katherine L Dashper

Emotional intelligence and emotional labour acting strategies among frontline hotel employees. International journal of Contemporary Hospitality, 1029 – 1046

“Gender, Global Labor Markets, Commodity Chains, and Mobilities: Globalizing Production and Reproduction” by: Heidi Gottfried

Serving People: Gender and Services in the New Economy” by: heidi Gottfried


Aesthetic labor in hospitality

The concept of aesthetic labour

According to Warhurst and Nickson (2007), aesthetic labor refers to the aspect of recruiting, selecting, developing, and deploying physical and presentable features with the aim of bringing out a good and sound image. In addition, studies have established a certain level of classification within interactive service work, and distinctions have further been developed with regard to requisite aesthetics which echo a company’s market dimensions, brand strategies and its appeal to different groupings of consumers. Thus, employees in such hospitality industries as restaurants, bars, style cafes and designer retailers need to have aesthetic skills as well as technical and social skills. The skills that most recruiters look for in aesthetic labor include: voice and accents, personal grooming, dress sense and style, and body language. According to Warhurst and Nickson (2007), the current trend in the hospitality industry has drawn so much attention on aesthetic skills as the vital requisites, and policy makers tend to favor this trend.

Aesthetic labor is required in service industries that are style-conscious as opposed to manufacturing industries due to various reasons. First, the production and consumption of services is simultaneous as opposed to manufacturing which does not happen simultaneously. Second, in service industries, there is a direct interaction between employees and customers. Service employees are considered as part of the product and their relationship with the customers and be described as intangible, spontaneous, continent and variable. These attributes imply that an effective service transaction will highly depend on the extent to which customers perceive the moods, personality, demeanor, and appearance of a firm’s employees. Whereas some companies have made attempts of replacing this uncertainty with technological advances such as automated systems and scripted call-centre encounters, other companies have invested a lot in employee training with the aim of delivering the employer brand image. The training process requires the employers to strictly manage and monitor the behavior and responses or emotional labour of employees. Other employees have resorted to recruiting and selecting ‘oven-ready’ employees with the right skills and attitudes for the jobs, by using competency-based selection procedures. Thus, the traditional understanding of ‘soft skills’ has been overtaken by the trending notion that sounding right and looking good are skills which are not easy to be trained into people. Nevertheless, recruiting employees in light of this assumption may potentially lead to discrimination (Warhurst and Nickson, 2009).

Aesthetic labour in the food industry

The food industry is greatly connected to the rapid growth in consumer culture. This field is unique in the sense that accessing employment basically depends on the personal traits and the ability to appeal to consumers. The job of an events manager or planner is to effectively reflect a future self to the customer.

According to Dashper, the service interactive industry can be described as a ‘customer-oriented bureaucracy’.  Employees often encounter very challenging demands due to the dual and sometimes contradictory concepts of customer bureaucratization and orientation. The events industry is one of the interactive services where the concept of labor aesthetics has been successfully used in recruitment processes.

Research shows that although both customer-oriented and bureaucratized elements tend to be gender-neutral, they usually have deep gender inclinations. With regard to service quality, it is usually presumed that customers tend to have gender preferences. Most male consumers prefer the service of female employees. In the events industry, employers put greater emphasis on such personal attributes as honesty, friendliness, self-presentation, and sociability than technical skills and experience.

Employers in the food industry require employees to have the right personality. Most advertisements call for employees who are physically appealing, bright, confident, enthusiastic, dynamic, and proactive. There is a tendency of ‘lookism’, that is, discriminating employees on grounds of their appearance. Employees in the food sector are expected to look very appealing and thus, physical appearance really matters. Thus, younger females would be much preferred than older ones. In addition, women will be expected to dress in a certain manner that attracts customers. Employers tend to control the body posture, language, length of clothes, makeup, shoes, and the color and length of hair of the employees. For instance, women who serve as waitresses in restaurants or clubs are expected to dress seductively in mini-clothes, which is not consistent with Muslim dressing.

The manager is expected t be outgoing and confident (Dashper, 2013). This description matches the skills necessary for the role of people management, customer service, and client relationship building. Although these requirements seem to be ordinary for persons with knowledge and willingness to accommodate the demands of the role, there is usually a presumed reasoning that female employees would not be willing and able to travel for work and that men would not have such constraints.

Thus, work-related travels operate as a barrier for women into employment and a steppingstone to men’s employment. Female employees would also have the willingness and ability to take up work-related travels but gendered perceptions deny women such opportunities. The long, unsociable hours are also indicative of female discrimination, as women are assumed to take up child-bearing roles. In spite of the increasing societal changes with regard to gender equality, women are still majorly responsible for child care responsibilities. The employers in the events industry also expect employees to show willingness to work during unsociable hours and to travel. Thus, most management positions are left to men because of the gendered perceptions that men are more committed and willing to work in all forms of circumstances. Women, on the other hand, are perceived to be more suitable for the waiteress jobs because of the notion that they have higher potential to act in a friendly and deferent manner to customers than men (Gottfried, 2012).

Employees are expected to meet the expectations of employers by engaging in some form of emotional labor. For instance, McDonald’s employees are usually required to greet customers with a smile and friendly attitude irrespective of the employees’ own temperaments and mood at the time. Research indicates that this rigid observance of the rules potentially damages the identity and sense of self of the employees. Women tend to be overrepresented in these jobs because of the deference requirement, which is demanded of all people in disadvantaged structural positions (Warhurst and Nickson, 2009).

Aesthetic labor also has effects on women in the sense that it perpetuates the gender wage gap and occupational segregation. Job segregation refers to the methodical tendency for female and male employees to work in different occupations (Gottfried, 2012). Women often have less pay than their male counterparts working in the same job position. Aesthetic labor is one of the factors leading to occupational segregation. In particular, women are stereotyped as fit for jobs that require emotions in terms of care and empathy. The problem arises from the fact that women are never compensated for these emotional attributes as they are perceived as a sign of weakness. Women only get a small pay in comparison to men due to the notion that women’s work is not very demanding and that it does not involve a lot of struggle since emotional attributes are inherent in the female gene. The emotional demands of labor are not awarded as high as the cognitive requirements of the job.

Female workers also face double-standards discrimination due to the fact that some men misinterpret their display of smiling and show of friendliness as sexual invite. Women who work as waitresses in casinos are encouraged to exaggerate their affection and to act seductively in terms of their dressing, appearance and speech, and this increases their vulnerability to sexual harassment.

There is a tendency of aesthetic labor exhausting employees, and causing burnout over time. In addition, aesthetic labour may lead to reduced job satisfaction due to the pretences that come with it. The increased degree of employee regulation of their emotions at work is linked to increased levels of emotional exhaustion and lowered levels of employee job satisfaction (Kim et al, 2012).

In conclusion, aesthetic labor has both positive and negative consequences. On a positive side, aesthetic labor promotes positive interactions between the employees and customers. It leads to such positive outcomes as the customer’s willingness to return, recommend the company to others, and the tendency to appreciate the perception of overall service quality. Negatively, aesthetic labor leads to emotional exhaustion and burnout as well as reduced job satisfaction. It also promotes discrimination against female employees in terms of less pay and sexual harassment.


Gottfried, Heidi. Gender, work, and economy: unpacking the global economy. John Wiley & Sons, 2013.

Gottfried, Heidi. Serving People: Gender Services in the New Economy. John Wiley & Sons, 2012.

Kim, Taegoo, Joanne Jung-Eun Yoo, Gyehee Lee, and Joungman Kim. “Emotional intelligence and emotional labor acting strategies among frontline hotel employees.” International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management 24, no. 7 (2012): 1029-1046.

Dashper, Katherine l. “The “right” person for the job: exploring the aesthetics of labor within the events industry.” Event Management 17, no. 2 (2013): 135-144.

Warhurst, Chris, and Dennis Nickson. “Employee experience of aesthetic labour in retail and hospitality.” Work, Employment & Society 21, no. 1 (2007): 103-120.

Warhurst, Chris, and Dennis Nickson. “‘Who’s Got the Look?’Emotional, Aesthetic and Sexualized Labour in Interactive Services.” Gender, Work & Organization 16, no. 3 (2009): 385-404.

We can write this or a similar paper for you! Simply fill the order form!

Unlike most other websites we deliver what we promise;

  • Our Support Staff are online 24/7
  • Our Writers are available 24/7
  • Most Urgent order is delivered with 6 Hrs
  • 100% Original Assignment Plagiarism report can be sent to you upon request.

GET 15 % DISCOUNT TODAY use the discount code PAPER15 at the order form.

Type of paper Academic level Subject area
Number of pages Paper urgency Cost per page: