Sherman, Rachel. “"Better than your mother"”. Berkeley Center for Working Families Working Paper No. 53, Berkeley, CA: Center for Working Families, University of California, Berkeley, 2002. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/4124.
This paper looks at a form of caring labor that has been neglected by students both of care work and of emotional labor in the workplace: luxury service. Drawing on 12 months of ethnography in two luxury hotels and 50 interviews with participants, I demonstrate that many of the elements that differentiate luxury service from non-luxury service are indicators of care. These include personalization; anticipation, legitimation, and resolution of needs; sincerity and authenticity; and available physical labor, both visibly and invisibly displayed. In contrast to some kinds of marketized care work, such as elder care, in which commodification and bureaucratization have led to the elimination of these intangible dimensions of care, in luxury service, these "extra" elements are the key to profit and are therefore emphasized by management. My evidence further indicates that the "needs" that are met in the luxury hotel are also often acquired there, as guests describe a process of learning what they are supposed to want and to do in the hotel. I argue that this process of consumption of care in the luxury environment produces and reinforces a particular sense of self as especially entitled to consume care, which in turn creates class dispositions significant for guests' consumption and interpersonal relations beyond the hotel.