Dr. Mariann Hardey

Digitally on.

Speaker, Writer, Academic.

Durham University Lecturer.

I do stuff for the BBC.

Feminist & lovely.

Slanguage of social media

Work it! Casting a light on precarious labour in Las Vegas

July 2015

This is authored by Beverly Geesin and Mariann Hardey

So after last weeks Utopia at Newcastle, this week I borrow H.G.Wells's Time Machine and travel to the University of Leicester for CMS. 

Is there an alternative? Management after critique

The 9th International Conference in Critical Management Studies

University of Leicester

8-10 July 2015

Keynote speakers:

Those of you familiar to this website will know that I am most comfortable as a social theorist, rather than a management or marketing academic per se. Yet! there are enterprising and indeed very interesting pockets of management studies and my own work on digital social networks and the consumptive affect falls neatly into some of these areas.

Dr Geesin, Univeristy York St John, and myself have been long-time contemporaries since our Doctoral studies at the University of York, Department of Sociology. This week we present on precarious methods and experiences of labour - known to a generation of young people for whom 'work life' collapses into digital social networks. At the risk of making the significance sound dull, you should come to our paper. 

Work it! Casting a light on precarious labour in Las Vegas


As an exploration of persistent sex-based inequalities and gendered discrimination within the service industry this paper examines the predatory discriminatory labour practices and over-representation of gender in Las Vegas focusing on the audition and hiring of seasonal staff.

There are a growing number of workers within this service industry whose labour can be foreground as ‘aesthetic labour’. Their work is situated within the context of image-driven organisations who employ ‘attractive workers’ that must adhere to appealing and tempting modes of production, based on a specific type of embodiment and mode of customer-based consumption.

This article analyses shifts in the mode of promotion of aesthetic labour that forms an ordinary backdrop to the social landscape of Las Vegas in the form of employment advertising from the service industry. We point out how organisations intentionally put in place certain types of aesthetic in order to emphasise and promote distinctive modes of embodiment and communication with customers. A further dimension is the positioning of the worker as they share an expected role and must promote and adhere to a gendered and sexualised defined interaction with customers.

We argue that women’s lives are shaped by the money, time and aesthetic creativity devoted to a certain type of consumption that relies on the entertainment for the consumer, their gratification, desire and amusement. The articulation of the labour within the employment advertisements uses a manipulative and creative discourse in order to remove risk from the establishment and customer and place it upon the female employee. In order to theorise the insights provided by the empirical data, we begin with an exploration of the insights provided by feminist perspectives of labour, and in particular the concept of aesthetic labour as holding distinctive (often implied) modes of exchange that go beyond the service description and contract.

This emphasis on aesthetic labour is then framed within broader discourses around deskilling within the service industry and attempts at circumventing protections from unions which, within the Las Vegas context, have historically been very strong. This paper considers the implications of this ephemeral and aesthetic labour which places women, in particular, within this precarious employment. Our understanding calls for a rethinking of practices of resistance that take into account the predatory and discriminatory positioning of the labour.

Should you be in Leicester, Wednesday July 8th at 15.30pm, then do come and enjoy our presentation.