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Expressive labour and the gift of hospitality

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The phenomenon of hospitality is difficult to understand and define, perhaps because of the transactional nature that pervades what is essentially a moral duty, but also, because of the multifaceted nature of commercial hospitality. While it is useful to separate the philosophical and functional aspects of hospitality, this study explores the potential for these to coexist in the feelings of hospitality providers about their work. Experiences of hospitality service are recorded and the motives and rewards for hospitality work explored using a phenomenological approach. Paid hospitality work is portrayed as distinct from normal reality, and experienced as a love–hate relationship with an addictive quality. The study finds that motives for providing both commercial and private hospitality are primarily intrinsic, as server-hosts seek pleasure by providing pleasure to others. The article concludes by proposing that providers of hospitality experience their roles as a form of self-expression, which motivates them to persevere, often enduring difficult working conditions.
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Keywords: experience; hospitality; labour; motivation; performance; pleasure

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Auckland University of Technology

Publication date: September 1, 2015

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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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