Paradise Laborers: Hotel Work in the Global Economy

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Drawing on eight years of participant observation and in-depth interviews, the renowned ethnographers Patricia A. Adler and Peter Adler reveal the occupational culture and lifestyles of workers at five luxury Hawaiian resorts. The Adlers describe the work, lives, and careers of new immigrants, locals, managers, and "seekers" who labor in organizations that never close, with shifts scheduled around the clock and around the year.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Adlers, highly published . . . sociologists, examine the work and lifestyle experiences of staff at five luxury resort hotels along a Hawaiian beach. They interviewed staff from four employee categories: new immigrants and locals, labeled trapped workers; and managers and self-supporting 'seekers' driven by leisure interests, labeled transient workers. . . . The Adlers . . . view resorts as postmodern global communities that focus on commercialization. . . . Recommended. Resort industry practitioners; students and researchers of labor, sociology, and ethnography."—Choice, February 2005

"Paradise Laborers . . . makes a fine contribution to organizations, occupations, and work studies in this first ethnographic study of work culture among resort employees in Hawaii, where tourism is the leading industry."—Julie Cherney, University of Oregon, Work in Progress, Fall 2004

"For seven years, ethnographers Patricia and Peter Adler made twice-yearly sojourns to a group of resort hotels located in one of Hawaii's popular tourist destinations, intent on mixing business with pleasure. The product of their effort is Paradise Laborers, an insightful and delightfully readable account of the occupational cultures, worker lifestyles, and career patterns featured in these resorts. . . . Throughout the book, the authors maintain that resort hotels are distinctly postmodern workplaces whose unconventional nature shapes workers' experiences and identities. . . . Paradise Laborers is a well-written and wonderfully grounded study rich in descriptive detail. The authors' close, long-standing relationships with informants lend the book a degree of intimacy that is often lacking in ethnographic accounts of work and occupations, while its quasi-longitudinal approach allows the reader to follow the experiences of specific informants over time. Although this book will be most useful to readers with an interest in translent labor, service work, and occupational dynamics in the travel and tourism industry, those with a general interest in work and occupations will also find it to be an engaging read."—Bonalyn J. Nelsen, Administrative Science Quarterly, June 2005

"Adler and Adler's genuine skill as storytellers. . . really elevates this book to an engaging and compelling read, bringing to life this fascinating milieu. Too often research in the hospitality sector has tended to rely on the managerial voice alone and this book clearly avoids such a trap. Indeed, it takes its place alongside several other crucial works emanating from the United States, where ethnographic study has allowed us a real insight into the working lives of those employed in the hospitality sector."—Dennis Nickson, University of Strathclyde, British Journal of Industrial Relations, 43 (2), June 2005

"The book is a result of a participant/ethnographic study and the research experience unfolds before the reader making the book an appealing read. . . . The authors were involved in participant observation in five luxury resorts, with over 500 resort workers and they interviewed 90 workers in-depth. The data provides a rich tapestry to draw inferences from and reveals much about workers' experiences and understanding about their working lives behind the glamorous façade of palm trees and golden beaches."—Nils Timo, Griffith University, The Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 47 no. 3, September 2005

"Paradise Laborers is a wonderfully grounded and close look at a multicultural, distinctly postmodern, world. The Adlers offer an account of the work, family, and leisure lives of those who staff and run luxury hotels, Hawai'ian style, as well as a broad, insightful treatment of the curiously ignored tourist trade. This is an eye-opening book for organizational and occupational scholars everywhere."—John Van Maanen, Erwin Schell Professor of Organization Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"Paradise Laborers fills an important gap in the literature on labor studies. Very little has been published about workers in resort hotels or how these hotels manage their workers. In addition, the authors' focus on time and transience—issues that one does not normally encounter in books about occupational groups—gives it a refreshingly different slant on service workers."—William Finlay, coauthor of Headhunters: Matchmaking in the Labor Market

"This is an exciting view of the inside of a major resort milieu. Patricia and Peter Adler creatively tie so much together—globalization, gender, vacationing, race and ethnicity, the labor force, and the rhythms of a postmodern world. You rarely see ethnographers who know the people as well as the Adlers, and they make this world come alive."—Phil Brown, Brown University, author of Catskill Culture and In the Catskills

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801441899
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2004
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 5.92 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Entering paradise 1
2 Researching resorts 22
3 Trapped laborers : new immigrants and locals 41
4 Transient laborers : seekers and management 64
5 Transient lifestyles 80
6 Seasonal laborers 99
7 Temporal laborers 123
8 Stratified laborers 139
9 Careers in paradise : short-term and intermediate 169
10 Careers in paradise : long-term 189
11 Understanding paradise labor 216
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