Service and Surveillance: Infrapolitics at Work among Casino Cocktail Waitresses
- Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society
- Oxford University Press
- Volume 10, Number 3, Fall 2003
- pp. 346-376
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With its surveillance mechanisms, tipping system, and sexualized environment, the casino industry is an intriguing site for a gendered diagnostics of workplace politics. Drawing on 18 months of participant observation at three casinos, I argue that managers, coworkers, and customers attempt to control waitress appearance and behavior through surveillance, gendered hegemony, and financial incentives. Cocktail waitresses resist in subtle forms—"infrapolitics" and occasionally collective action. Feminist research, to consider women such as cocktail waitresses as multidimensional actors, must both avoid a common binary between sexual and nonsexual gendered work and take into consideration women's own subjectivities. Feminist workplace ethnography is particularly well suited to help us understand women workers' experiences of power and modes of resistance.