Title: Conceptions and norms about directness in service relations: domestic workers and customers

Authors: Vesa Leppänen

Addresses: Department of Sociology, Lund University, Box 114, 221 00 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: This article analyses service relations between domestic workers and customers; specifically, workers' conceptions and norms about directives. While previous studies have focused on contexts where asymmetries of power are great, thus resulting in equally asymmetrical forms of interactions, this article reports from a study of a context where asymmetries are smaller. Empirical data consist of 20 semi-structured interviews with formally employed domestic workers in Sweden. This article describes and analyses workers' experience with customer directives, their norms about how customers should express directives, and how they teach customers their role. Thus, in contrast to previous studies of paid domestic workers, this study shows that smaller asymmetries of power result in less asymmetrical interactions and how domestic workers even execute power over customers.

Keywords: domestic work; service relations; power asymmetries; worker-customer interaction; customer education; directives; directness; qualitative methods; semi-structured interviews; domestic workers; Sweden.

DOI: 10.1504/IJQRS.2014.065786

International Journal of Qualitative Research in Services, 2014 Vol.1 No.4, pp.292 - 304

Received: 17 Aug 2013
Accepted: 19 Apr 2014

Published online: 28 Nov 2014 *

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