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Paid to Party

Working Time and Emotion in Direct Home Sales

Jamie L. Mullaney and Janet Hinson Shope

Publication Year: 2012

On any given night in living rooms across America, women gather for a fun girls’ night out to eat, drink, and purchase the latest products—from Amway to Mary Kay cosmetics. Beneath the party atmosphere lies a billion-dollar industry, Direct Home Sales (DHS), which is currently changing how women navigate work and family.

Drawing from numerous interviews with consultants and observations at company-sponsored events, Paid to Party takes a closer look at how DHS promises to change the way we think and feel about the struggles of balancing work and family. Offering a new approach to a flexible work model, DHS companies tell women they can, in fact, have it all and not feel guilty. In DHS, work time is not measured by the hands of the clock, but by the emotional fulfillment and fun it brings.

Published by: Rutgers University Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

From its very inception as a casual conversation across the hall about a shared experience, this project has been, from the outset, a collaborative endeavor. Though academics routinely recognize the joint production of knowledge, we would like to acknowledge all those who were our collaborative partners ...

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pp. 1-18

In an interview with a CBS Evening News reporter, a former psychotherapist turned Mary Kay makeup sales representative (frequently dubbed “consultants”) explains the paradox of the “lipstick indicator,” a notable increase in sales of personal care products during economically tough times. ...

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1 Creating a Feel-Good Business: Negotiating the Work–Family Pieces

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pp. 19-46

My approach to you is not that of a prophet, nor do I seek fame as a teacher of the tested thoughts in life. I feel sincerely that I did not indeed discover the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow when I found the will to wish. It is my strong conviction that rewards are sweeter when they are shared with those around you. ...

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2 From Temporal Acrobats to Architects: Flexibility Gets a Much-Needed Makeover

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pp. 47-67

Imagine having time to take a salsa class in the afternoon, hang out with friends on a weeknight, or spend the morning with your son or daughter building a fortress for stuffed dinosaurs. “You can have all this and more!” we are told around 8 or 9 P.M. during a company’s regional meeting near our college’s campus. ...

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3 Out with the Old, In with the New: Changing How Women Feel about Work

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pp. 68-87

When Studs Terkel interviewed workers all over the country about their jobs in the 1970s, their voices painted a rather grim picture of working life. After listening to their stories and documenting the collective mood, Terkel wrote these rather dispiriting words to introduce Working: ...

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4 The Girls’ Night Out: Social Time and Obligation

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pp. 88-106

The postcard that arrives in the mail, tucked between bills and sales flyers, invites us to a party “where fun, friends, and fragrance will surround and delight” us. The product message is secondary to the emphasis on “a good time with friends,” and we are promised “no pitch, no pressure—just a good time.” ...

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5 Let the Games Begin: The Importance of Playing Along

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pp. 107-126

In Chapters 2 and 3, we described the process of emoting time in DHS, specifically how fostering certain temporal and emotional experiences draws women into the industry. Although joining a company may afford many benefits for consultants— namely, a new experience of work—the industry also highlights the perks ...

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6 Just Not Buying It: Fielding Resistance to DHS

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pp. 127-147

The DHS mockumentary, Believe, opens with Mark Fuller—an enthusiastic, multilevel marketing distributor with gelled hair, an overly white smile, and a surname out of the DHS history books (Fuller Brush company)—looking into the camera and asking “Are you ready to make some money?!” ...

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pp. 148-156

When we started this project, we were curious how an almost $30 billion industry with more than sixteen million consultants had almost managed to escape sociological scrutiny (see Biggart 1989; Williams and Bemiller 2010), particularly since direct home sales challenges dominant structures of work. ...

Appendix A. Getting Our Own Party Started: Studying Direct Home Sales

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pp. 157-172

Appendix B. Interview Guide for DHS Consultants

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pp. 173-174


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pp. 175-178


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pp. 179-188


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pp. 189-193

E-ISBN-13: 9780813552156
E-ISBN-10: 081355215X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813551838

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 821736001
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Paid to Party

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Home parties (Marketing) -- Social aspects.
  • Direct selling -- Social aspects.
  • Women sales personnel.
  • Women -- Employment -- Social aspects.
  • Flexible work arrangements.
  • Work and family.
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