Women's work as the labour of sexual difference: female employment in the airline industry

PhD Thesis

Tyler, Melissa Jane 1997. Women's work as the labour of sexual difference: female employment in the airline industry. PhD Thesis
AuthorsTyler, Melissa Jane
TypePhD Thesis

This thesis is based on an empirical investigation of women's work in the airline industry. It aims to build on previous research into women's work by focusing not on the commodification of women's perceived nature (James, 1989), on femininity (Davies, 1979) or on women's sexuality (Hochschild, 1983, Adkins, 1995), but on the commodification of sexual difference, based on an analytical account of empirical research into the flight attendant as the iconic sexually differentialized labourer. The two key findings which emerged from the research are, first, that as one respondent put it, the flight attendant is " part mother, part servant, part tart"; her work is essentialized, feminized and also sexualized. The research suggested that these three processes are so closely interrelated that they actually constitute analytically distinct elements of the same labour process through which not only se~ gender and sexuality but sexual difference - "the specific properties ... qualities ... or attributes that women have developed or have been bound to historically ... which make them women not men" (De Lauretis, 1989: 5-6) - is commodified. The second theme is that, as sexually differentialized labourers, women workers are managed through the manipulation and maintenance of their 'organisational bodies', through a range of managerial techniques which involve, at least in part, a process of instrumental aestheticization. The underlying aim of this thesis is to offer a theoretical account of the sexual differentialization of women's work in an attempt to contribute to the development of a criticaL feminist theory of the commodification of sexual difference.

KeywordsFemale flight attendants; airline industry; women's sexuality ; stereotypes
PublisherUniversity of Derby
Web address (URL)https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.300555
Output statusUnpublished
Publication process dates
Deposited22 Apr 2013, 11:31
Publication dates1997
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