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Prof Chris Warhurst Research Seminar

From the Archive

News created: 30 Sep 2010

2010 SEMINAR SERIES presented by the Department of Business and The Labour-Management Studies Foundation

TOPIC: "I'm now a BA bunny!" The Training of Aesthetic Labour and the Wage-Effort Bargain of Flight Attendants'

DATE: Friday 12 November 2010, 3.00 – 5.00pm

VENUE: Seminar Room 623, Level 6, Faculty of Business & Economics Building E4A, Macquarie University R13 on Campus Map (Parking at Macquarie Centre, Train Station: Macquarie University)

PRESENTER:  Professor Chris Warhurst, Department of Work & Organisational Studies, University of Sydney.

  • No charge.
  • Nibbles and refreshments will be provided.



Much ‘research’ on services focuses on their consumption rather than their production or suggests that a 'nothingness' now characterises the work of that production. Aesthetic labour helps refocus that research back onto production and the importance of the employment relationship. However being relatively new, aesthetic labour is still a concept that is being developed. It is also occasionally mis-conceived. One such misconception occurs in the research of Tyler and her colleagues, who, examining the work of airline flight attendants, claim that aesthetic labour is ‘beyond contract’, invisible, unrecognized and unrewarded, and is instead a philanthropic act – a gift from women to men. This paper challenges that claim. It draws upon empirical research of the training of these flight attendants in the UK provided by further education (TAFE) and private sector providers. This research highlights how this training not only prepares these workers for both getting and doing the job but also how aesthetic labour is a formally recognised feature of the wage-effort bargain within the airline industry and, encompassing both women and men, should not be concealed behind the idiom of ‘feminine naturalness’.


Photo of Professor Chris WarhurstChris Warhurst is Professor of Work and Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney. He has published widely in US and European journals, including Administrative Science Quarterly and the British Journal of Industrial Relations. He has also published more than a dozen books including The Skills that Matter (Palgrave 2004) and Work Less, Live More? (Palgrave 2007). He is currently co-editor of the journal Work, Employment and Society and a series editor of the book series attached to the International Labour Process Conference. Until the recent move to Sydney he was the director of the Scottish Centre for Employment Research in Glasgow that undertakes applied research. He believes that academics should be socially useful: objective but never detached. He holds an UK ESRC research award aiming to 'Make Bad Jobs Better'. He was an expert adviser to HM Treasury's Leitch Review of Skills and is currently an expert contributor to HM treasury's Hutton Fair Pay Commission.



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