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Critically unpacking professionalism in hospitality: Knowledge, meaningful work and dignity

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Calls for change within the hospitality sector have argued for the industry to seriously consider the implementation of professionalism. Concerns have been raised about the workplace conditions of many employees, the readiness of graduates to meet or challenge these practices, and commitment to sustainability in promoting and respecting the rights of people in the workplace. In this conceptual article traditional perspectives of professionalism are critically examined. A key argument is that recent changes to professionalism have transformed the term into another discursive tool for discipline, performance and control. Rather than focusing on professionalism this article asserts that the sector should seriously consider implementing meaningful work and dignity. The article concludes that integrating these concepts through practices such as caring relationships, trust and education of managers starts to open up avenues for change in this hostile industry. Overall, the article argues that by adopting a broader understanding of professionalism, one that incorporates communication and collaboration, and challenges the lack of dignity in the workplace, we can start to open up possibilities for interdisciplinary work and more importantly, change.

Keywords: communication; critical; dignity; hospitality; meaningful work; professionalism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Waikato

Publication date: November 2, 2012

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  • Hospitality & Society is an international multidisciplinary social sciences journal focusing upon hospitality and exploring its connections with wider social and cultural processes and structures. The journal welcomes submissions from various disciplines and aims to be an interactive forum expanding frontiers of knowledge and contributing to the literature on hospitality social science. Articles that stimulate debate, discussion and exchange across disciplines are welcomed, as well as review essays or short topical pieces that are provocative and problematic in nature.
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