The chef as an emotional and aesthetic labourer; an employee in transition

GRAHAM, David (2015). The chef as an emotional and aesthetic labourer; an employee in transition. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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The experience economy has extended the very nature of service work to one where the employee is required to deliver a service product which has to excite and stimulate all of the customer’s senses. This is a relatively new service orientation, which has shifted the industrial craft worker from the closed and hidden world of production onto the open `stage`, where they are required to give a performance of their craft, engage in customer conversation and hold eye contact. The chef is one exemplification of this realignment with the movement of their employment from the traditional closed French kitchen, to the new world of the open kitchen as an emotional and aesthetic labourer. Realist ontology and a social constructivism epistemology is adopted, undertaking twenty eight in-depth interviews with chefs who had worked in closed kitchens and transferred to open kitchens in order to develop an understanding of their emotional and aesthetic labouring. Participants who further illustrate their narrative responses with drawings as pictorial metaphors to elicit deeper meaning of their new world of work, which is a novel approach in emotional and aesthetic labour business management research. The research identifies the changed work pressures of those respondents, who have had to heuristically acquire new soft skills in order to become successful emotional and aesthetic labourers. The participant’s resilience to the additional stress of such open work was enabled through the ‘status shield’ of hard skill, until the necessary soft skills were acquired. It can be suggested from the findings that the two theorisations of emotional and aesthetic labour can be formulated together to enable a richer interpretation of the transformation of the chef in the open kitchen. This offers an insight and explanation into the impact of this changing kitchen work and with it a new sociology of the chef. One which is challenging the historical traditions of kitchen work, leading to de-masculinisation, soft skills development, changing speech vernacular in the kitchen and the outcome of increased job satisfaction. The thesis makes a contribution towards the identification of the transformational effect on these individuals. Whilst hard skills are still of primary importance, soft skills training and development for traditional masculine jobs will require addressing by educators and training providers, if these new open craft jobs, are to be available to the traditional young working class male.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Ali, Alisha [0000-0002-7667-4293]
Thesis advisor - Martin, Emma
Thesis advisor - Spencer, Peter
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Departments - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Business School > Department of Service Sector Management
Depositing User: Helen Garner
Date Deposited: 23 Dec 2016 11:04
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:00

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