Subclinical: The invisible service worker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Performing frontline interactive service work can be an alienating experience for many of those who join the ranks. On one side are customers who have internalized the mantra of consumer sovereignty, and on the other side are managers intent on producing the perfect, fully customer-oriented, branded service worker. Frontline employees feel the full brunt of these two impositions in sectors such as luxury hospitality, especially in emerging economies. Customers possess much higher reserves of economic and cultural power than frontline workers, which can exacerbate their sovereign-like (mis)behaviour. Managers control almost every aspect of the worker and train workers to reproduce a particular embodied style of service. These conditions reduce workers? ability to de-alienate and humanize themselves and increase work stress, which can then accelerate negative consequences, such as burnout or worse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-157
Number of pages7
JournalMarketing Theory
Issue number2
Early online date7 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Consumer sovereignty
  • customer orientation
  • employee experience
  • interactive service work
  • luxury services


Dive into the research topics of 'Subclinical: The invisible service worker'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this