Smiles on faces and thumbs in the bread: self-esteem maintenance in a service occupation

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Dawson, Sherri

Dawson, Sherri. (1989).Smiles on faces and thumbs in the bread: Self-esteem maintenance in a service occupation. Lambda Alpha Journal of Man, v.20, p.


"Dr. Jekeyll and Mr. Hyde" was a term used by an informant, a grocery store cahsier, to assess accurately how a cashier's attitudes, actions, and self-esteem change with each customer. Every day a cashier will have to deal with many customers. Each customer is categorized, defined, and serviced differently; most importantly, each customer has a different effect on the cashier's self-esteem. The research explores the means by which service sector employees, cashiers in a grocery store, maintain their self-esteem when interacting with customers. As cashiers interact with customers, they categorize them emically and redefine their identity vis a vis each customer. The ethnographic research was conducted at a mid-size chain grocery store, in a college community, in the southeastern United States.

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