Customer Abuse and Aggression as Labour Control Among LGBT Workers in Low-Wage Services Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • This study examines the relation between customer abuse and aggression, the gender and sexual expression of workers, and labour control in low-wage services. In-depth interviews with 30 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT)1 low-wage service sector workers reveal how customer abuse and aggression works in consort with management strategies to reproduce cis- and heteronormativity. Customer abuse and aggression disciplined worker expressions of non-normative gender and sexual identities, leading to concealment and self-policing. Management was complicit in this dynamic, placing profitability and customer satisfaction over the safety of LGBT workers, only intervening in instances of customer abuse and aggression when it had a limited economic impact. It is posited that customer abuse and aggression is not only a response to unmet expectations emanating from the labour process but is also a mechanism of labour control that disciplines worker behaviour and aesthetics, directly and indirectly, by influencing management prerogatives.

publication date

  • November 1, 2021