Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Arts




Tracey L. Adams


Using qualitative data gathered from in-depth interviews, this research aims to elucidate how young coffeehouse baristas experience the service encounter. As "aesthetic labourers," baristas are hypothesized to possess a certain level of embodied capital, which empowers them in their interactions with customers. However, many young interactive service workers are stopgap workers who do not intend to make careers out of their part-time jobs. How does their unique position in the labour market influence the ways in which these workers experience employment in the lower tier of the service sector? The findings suggest that age and class intersect in the coffeehouse setting to gentrify barista work, but coffeehouse employers' efforts to "empower" their employees have variable results. Thus young workers' working conditions and career aspirations appear to be important in determining whether and how resistance plays out in the three-way relationship among employers, workers, and customers.