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”We don’t wear uniforms but private clothing, to enhance the fact that we too are human beings”: Strategies to counteract, avoid and cope with harassment and threats of violence in the hospitality workplace
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Economics, Geography, Law and Tourism.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6176-3595
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Economics, Geography, Law and Tourism.
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Health Sciences.
2020 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Existing research suggests that sexual harassment, threats and violence are perceived as normal features and as ‘part of the job’ by hospitality workers (Guerrier & Adib, 2000; Poulston, 2008). Several studies indicate that strategies and interventions for the purpose of preventing harassment and violence and threats of violence in hospitality are either completely lacking or are underdeveloped. Customer harassment in particular is much less likely to be covered by policies, than is co-worker or supervisor harassment (Folgerø & Fjeldstad, 1995; Yagil, 2008; Ram, 2015; Kensbock et al, 2015). In response to sexual and racist harassment, workers develop various coping strategies stretching from avoiding certain customers, developing a ’thick skin’, telling customers off, or laughing off an incident and so forth (Guerrier & Adib, 2000; Yagil, 2008; Kensbock et al, 2015). Thus, developing competencies in how to respond to harassment without giving offense become part of what Kensbock et al (2015: 43-44) have referred to as ‘sophisticated social intelligence’ and ‘key job-related skills’. In this paper, we will explore and analyze some of the strategies deployed by management and workers, individually and collectively, in order to cope, prevent, and counteract harassment and threats of violence in the hospitality workplace. A secondary purpose is to examine some of the conflicting aims and contradictions that exist in the hospitality workplace, which may constitute barriers to effective, preventive action. Preliminary findings indicate that there is a broad range of preventive measures that employers and managers deploy, stretching from the arrangement of the physical environment to team-building activities and onto efforts aimed at creating a common value-system. Workers, on their part, strategize collectively for instance by close communication with each other regarding “difficult” customers. Furthermore, individual workers use their bodily resources (voice, physical appearance) and clothing, to cope with and to counteract harassment and threatening situations. Among the conflicting aims and contradictions we find the serving of alcohol, which is crucial to the industry in terms of income, and the sometimes imperfect observation of the Swedish Alcohol Act, as well as the (gendered) expectations on frontline staff to act friendly and to be accommodating whilst avoiding sexual invitations from guests.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2020.
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-38695OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-38695DiVA, id: diva2:1416339
Conference
Long-term global perspectives on preventing sexual harassment in the workplace: Policy, practice & strategies, 8-10 March 2020 at the Museum of Work, Norrköping
Projects
AFA Bara en bagatell, eller? Att avnormalisera trakasserier och hot om våld på hotell- och restaurangarbetsplatsen
Funder
AFA Insurance, 180013Available from: 2020-03-23 Created: 2020-03-23 Last updated: 2020-03-23

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Zampoukos, Kristina
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Citation style
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