Entertaining Guests or Entertaining the Guests: Children’s Emotional Labour in Hotels, Pubs and Boarding Houses

  • Julie Seymour


Children’s contribution to the labour of the household is well documented, particularly around the issues of domestic labour (Morrow, 1994; Punch, 2001), the provision of caring activities (Aldridge and Becker, 1993; Becker, Aldridge and Dearden, 1998) and income generation (see van der Hoek, this volume). Research has also shown that many children are involved in assisting in their families’ work-related activities, particularly family businesses (Song, 1996; James et al., 2000).1 This chapter focuses on children’s contribution to the emotional labour of family businesses by drawing on examples from interviews carried out with families living and working in hotels, pubs and boarding houses in England.2 One striking theme that emerged from early analysis of the data was the expected involvement of children in social interaction with guests, both conversationally and in activities outside the business location. Parents and children recognised this activity as ‘part of the job’; that is, as essential emotional labour connected with the workplace. Such labour involves a cognitive recognition that this is a responsibility of household members — the adoption of ‘sentient activity’ and ‘active sensibility’ as theorised by Mason (1994) — but also actual interactive activities to create a hospitable ambiance for guests.


Social Skill Family Business Hospitality Establishment Domestic Labour Emotional Labour 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Palgrave Macmillan 2005

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  • Julie Seymour

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