Object Pleasures and Job Segregation: Barbers, hairstylists, and the material (be)longings of work

Craig Rich


Increasingly, organization and communication scholars are paying critical attention to the materiality work/life. In this vein, this paper explores the connections between job segregation, object relations, and the performance of work belongings. In particular, it speaks into the question: how do object relations constitute segregated job belongings? Drawing on data from a year-long, comparative ethnography of barbers and hairstylists, the analysis focuses on barbershop and hair salon mirrors and the complex relations produced by barbers’ avoidance and hairstylists’ engagement of this common object. Specifically, these object relations were found to not only differentiate job belongings, but also materialize erotics (pains and/or pleasures) in the constitution of job segregation. The paper closes with implications of these findings for studies of materiality, especially in terms of how object relations and pleasures summon and segregate working bodies and jobs. 


Objects; Materiality; Belonging; Job Segregation

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