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Learn It, Live It, Love It: Creating the Self in the Consumer Culture of Retail Employment

  • Author / Creator
    Holroyd, Heather
  • How do retail service industry employees perform appearance and identity to generate capital? This thesis is data collected through interviews with 5 female retail employees, analyzed in conjunction with relevant readings about performance at work through appearance and identity (Chapter 1 – Erving Goffman), the involvement of the self at work for financial gain of the self and the employer (Chapter 2 – Arlie Russell Hochschild) and the sale of self for the accumulation of forms of capital (Chapter 3 – Pierre Bourdieu, Henri Lefebvre, and other theorists concerned with consumer culture). The thesis begins at the level of the individual, expands to the realm of the retail environment and its associated relationships, and finally moves to examining the circulation of forms of capital. I assert that the research participants, as embodied employees of lifestyle brands, provide a form of capital for their employers. The employees’ performances positively reinforce the retailers’ brands and images, and thereby reproduce consumer culture by inciting desire.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2010-06
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3DG8F
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
    English
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
    Master's
  • Department
    • Department of Sociology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Barbour, Charles (Sociology)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Tinic, Serra (Sociology)
    • den Heyer, Kent (Secondary Education)
    • Aoki, Doug (Sociology)