Re-telling Retail: The Intersection of High-Tech Products and Low-Wage Service Work

Annie Lin : Sociology / Public Policy

Mentor: Michael Burawoy, Sociology

Past research on the service sector indicates that workers often suffer from negative psychological consequences when forced by their managers to be friendly. Workers, workers' rights advocates, businesspeople, and scholars alike have therefore searched for ways to set up the work environment such that workers will be friendly even without management coercion. Taking this search effort into an under-researched sector, Annie will join electronics retail teams this summer to examine how companies' encouragement of relationship-building between employees and customers affects employees' likelihood of providing "voluntary" friendliness. Annie will sell electronic gadgets and give tutorials of computers while conducting ethnographic research and in-depth interviews.