Succeeding in a triangular employment game : keeping one’s job and making a career as a low-skilled service provider employee
On the basis of a study of hostesses employed by service providers and working for customers, the article analyzes the conditions in which low-skilled employees can
successfully advance in a triangular labor relation. This employment arrangement —which scrambles the usual employer-employee relation in that the customer becomes a determinant third-party— is extremely malleable and does not systematically increase employee subordination. In fact, three types of alliances may emerge, shaped in part by customer characteristics and customer’s relations with the service provider, but the article emphasizes the degree of maneuvering room employees have when it comes to facilitating or thwarting the development of those alliances. To succeed in these triangular relations —that is, not only to keep one’s job but to advance in it, to make a career— does not require uncommon skills so much as the ability to master certain codes : it is crucial to be able to serve customers to their satisfaction while maintaining a certain distance and keeping one’s employer content as well, and hostesses are not all equally at ease when it comes to getting their bearings and maneuvering within these configurations. The article explores the personal resources and dispositions behind that faculty.
Keywords. HOSTESSES – SERVICE PROVISION – TRIANGULAR EMPLOYMENT RELATION – CAREERS – LOW-SKILLED EMPLOYEES