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 (Unpublished)

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.

Working Paper
hairdressing_Working_Paper_8.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives.

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