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‘There’s A Lot More To It Than Just Cutting Hair, You Know’: Managerial Controls, Work Practices and Identity Narratives Among Hair Stylists

Lee, Tracey, Jewson, Nick, Bishop, Dan, Felstead, Alan, Fuller, Alison, Kakavelakis, Konstantinos and Lorna, Unwin (2007) ‘There’s A Lot More To It Than Just Cutting Hair, You Know’: Managerial Controls, Work Practices and Identity Narratives Among Hair Stylists. Working Paper (8). (Unpublished)

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    This paper draws on original data generated within a research project, entitled Learning
    as Work: Teaching and Learning Processes in the Contemporary Work Organization1,
    funded within the Economic and Social Research Council’s ‘Teaching and Learning
    Research Programme’. It examines relationships between managerial strategies of
    control, the organization of work practices and narratives of occupational identity among
    stylists employed in high-fashion, franchised hairdressing salons in the UK. It argues that
    tensions and dilemmas generated between contrasting elements within both forms of
    supervision and work practices are reflected and reconciled within the occupational
    narratives of salon staff. These narratives or stories depict a behavioural ideal for, and
    project a positive image of, the motivations, skills and disciplines of successful stylists.
    They comprise rhetorical forms that legitimise stylists in maintaining their engagement in
    potentially contradictory occupational practices and, at the same time, offer management
    a channel through which to groom the subjectivity of the workforce. These narratives can
    be grouped around three themes: ‘professionalism’, ‘delight and wowing’ and ‘keeping up’. Collectively they reinforce a positive evaluation of continuous learning as an integral part of stylists’ subjectivities and identifications. However, the organization of work
    within franchised salons is such that stylists’ commitment to open and continuous learning is restricted to a relatively narrow range of tasks.

    Item Type: Article
    Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
    Schools: School of Human and Health Sciences
    Related URLs:
    Depositing User: Tracey Yeadon-Lee
    Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2009 14:37
    Last Modified: 04 Nov 2010 16:30


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