Waitressing for my Life: An Auto-Ethnographic Study on Emotional Labor and Gender Identity within the Family Restaurant
Amodeo, Sophia C.
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The following is an auto-ethnographic account of how emotional labor, sexual harassment and gender affect interpersonal relations in a family run restaurant. To concentrate my examination, I focus my evidence on the experiences that transpired through the summer of 2012 while I was working as a full-time waitress. Through the management of these issues in my own family's restaurant in Grand Rapids, Michigan I find myself forced to find a balance between the dualistic roles of being both a waitress and owner's daughter, working within a sexualized environment. Through the scholarship of Hochschild (2003) and Akerlof (2005), I explore the intense presence of emotional labor within the profession of waitressing and the revealing repercussions of emotional health, due to its persistence. In an attempt to address how familial ties that are present in the establishment play a role in these interpersonal relations, I use the contrasting characteristics of my roles in the restaurant to explore how preconceived notions of the sexualization of my occupation are handled under the presence of my father as my boss. I couple my experiential research with a review of sociological scholarship in order to illuminate that traditional conceptions of gender, identity and service are still present in the modern day. The presence of these traditional roles in the restaurant space culminates into a place of contention for my father, which perpetuates the divide between my roles as a waitress and his daughter.