Aesthetic Discrimination

Topics: Discrimination, Economy, Employment Pages: 28 (8541 words) Published: January 26, 2011
Journal of Services Research, Volume 9, Number 2 (October 2009 - March 2010) ©2009 by Institute for International Management and Technology. All Rights Reserved. Aesthetic labour represents a state of discriminatory practice, based on accent, gendered body shape and language, modulated voice, scripted expression, and other suitable body attributes of employees, often observed in the hospitality and retail sectors. It implies organisational preferences for recruitment of culturally tuned, sophisticated and good-looking employees. The objective of the study was to trace the footprint of aesthetic labour in Indian context. CHAID clustering technique has been used in this study. This method has been used in marketing area to segment customers, retail stores etc. We used SPSS 16.0 Classification Tree Module to analyze our data. It facilitates implementation of CHAID algorithm. The finding of the research substantiates the arguments that the biased decision making orientation, towards deployment of aesthetic labour, is quite common among hospitality professionals in India. This article reports a slice of mental map, showcasing a decision making orientation towards recruitment of aesthetically-rich applicants, evidently seen in Indian hospitality sector. In earlier studies, CHAID algorithm has not been employed to assess the extent of aesthetic labour practice. This article contributes to fill up this gap and initiate the discussion. AESTHETIC LABOUR IN INDIA: LOCATING AND

Malay Biswas
INTRODUCTION We are witnessing a change in the nature of jobs. Muscle jobs are disappearing, finger and brain jobs are growing or, to put it more formally, labour-based industries have been
displaced by skill-based industries and these in turn will have to be replaced by knowledge-based industries”.
-Charles Handy (1984)
Though Charles Handy tracked these radical changes long back in 1984, it touched India very recently. During the last few years, India witnessed an unprecedented economic growth. During the financial year 2007-2008, Indian economic growth rate is seen even hovering around 9%.

Cost advantage, responsive customer service architecture, huge middle class market, strategic location in the south east Asian region, English speaking educated employees, availability of “frugal “

Journal of Services Research, Volume 9, Number 2 (October 2009 - March 2010) 82 Aesthetic Labour in India
engineering” architecture, stable democratic political set up, global economic boom, etc have, in fact, facilitated this growth story to unfold. In spite of several threats to the economy, such as sky rocketing oil price, impending depression fear in US, Kamath (2007) observed that “The Indian growth story is based on multiple cylinders - consumption, investment, domestic demand, global competitiveness, knowledgebased businesses, industrial growth. Cyclical downturns in any one sector can occur but it is the combination of all factors that will keep the economy running at the rates that we are now seeing. In addition, there is ample scope to do much better, be it in the agriculture sector or in terms of infrastructure development. There are a lot of growth stories waiting to happen”. In an interesting article, Swaminathan (2007) highlighted various economic theories and belief system to explain and identify the exact reason for Indian growth drivers; however, he found the inadequacies of these theories. “Textbook theories cannot explain this. We are left with sundry explanations that are at best partial truths. We really need a new economics. We need to investigate not only what we know we should, but also seek unknown unknowns (to use Donald Rumsfeld's immortal phrase)”.

Economic growth is often associated with increasing immediate role of service sector and its contribution to GDP, employment, investment. (Chenery 1960; Fuch 1968). It is equally true for Indian economy too. In...
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