The aesthetic labor of ethnographers

Kjerstin Gruys, David J. Hutson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


This chapter uses a comparative case method, drawing on autoethnographic accounts to explore how ethnographers perform aesthetic labor across two research sites: a women’s plus-size clothing store and a coed retail gym. The authors find that they engaged in aesthetic labor as they adapted to the aesthetic expectations of sites by either blending in or sticking out. In their studies, the successful accomplishment of aesthetic labor relied primarily on gender and body size, highlighting how the body functions as a status characteristic that influences existing power dynamics. Such insights suggest the need to conceptualize ethnographic research through the lens of labor-a lens that makes clearer how academic work is structured by the same intersectional inequalities prevalent in most occupational fields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Body and Embodiment
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780190842475
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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