Yeadon-Lee, Tracey (2011) Bringing in the Customers: Regulation, Discretion and Customer Service Narratives in an Upmarket Hair Salon. In: 6th International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 11th - 13th July 2011, New Orleans, USA. (Unpublished)

To date, little is actually known about hairdressing as a specific form work. While there are some studies that explore dimensions of gender, ‘race’ and class within hairdressing salons, few studies have focused directly on the work being done by stylists and how this connects to organisational structures, cultures and to the relationships between employers, stylists and their clients. This paper hopes to stimulate further research and discussion in this area by exploring the work of UK stylists in ‘up-market’ hairdressing salons. It examines, in particular, the relationships between the organisation of work and customer service narratives that operate in these salon environments. Drawing on qualitative empirical research the paper examines how tensions, generated through managerial regulation and the concomitant requirement for stylists to exercise task discretion, are ultimately reconciled through customer service narratives. It discusses how these narratives enable stylists to legitimise their work practices and also maintain positive engagement in diverse, and sometimes contradictory, occupational performances. The paper argues that while the narratives may be seen to operate as a form of normative regulation in the salons they also function as resources for stylists to further their economic and occupational self- interests.

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