This dissertation examines the occupations, labor, and identities of barbers and hairstylists. In particular, this project explores how differences, especially gender and sexuality, organize these occupations work identities, resulting in jobMoreThis dissertation examines the occupations, labor, and identities of barbers and hairstylists.
In particular, this project explores how differences, especially gender and sexuality, organize these occupations work identities, resulting in job segregation. Three problems prompt this investigation. First, current studies of occupations fail to adequately engage the role that communication plays in constituting and segregating the meanings of jobs through differences. Second, the role of sexuality in organizing jobs is often marginalized within occupational studies. Lastly, this project addresses the understudied role of pleasure, longing, and belonging in reproducing occupational segregation.-Poststructuralist approaches to gender and sexuality are the theoretical frames that steer this empirical investigation.
Broadly these frames engage gender and sexuality as coconstructed, plural, and incoherent sets of meanings and identities. Additionally, comparative ethnography guided by critical sensibilities comprises the methodological frame that facilitates this research. Ultimately, two research questions guide this investigation: (a) What are the dominant discourses of gender and sexuality that organize hairstylists and barbers occupational identities, and (b) How do hairstylists and barbers negotiate these gender and sexual discourses in the material performance of their work?
I engage these questions through participant-observation, in-depth interviews, and analyses of occupational texts.-The ensuing analysis explores five dominant discourses of gender and sexuality that construct barbers work identities as masculine and heterosexual but hairstylists work identities as queerly feminine and excessively homo/heterosexual.
Barbers and hairstylists material work performances negotiated these identity constructions through a theme of disavowing versus avowing aestheticism, which shapes their work environments, bodies, and service pleasures.-In the conclusion, I argue that sexuality is central to the job segregation process, explaining the wide variation of what occupational studies currently call gender segregation.
In particular, difference discourses craft the jobs of barbering and hairstyling to summon differently gendered and sexual bodies and identities. However, job segregation is constituted in barbers and hairstylists material work performances through two sexual processes.
First, workers longing to belonging within discursively legitimated work identities facilitates the achievement of job segregation. Second, barbers and hairstylists material performances of work also produce pleasures that summon differently gendered and sexual bodies.