Reconceptualising work in nightclubs

Murray, Christopher and Dale, Karen and Faulconbridge, James (2022) Reconceptualising work in nightclubs. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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Work in nightclubs has been understood as a task encountered by individual employees, navigating a contradiction between a profit imperative and duties under license to restrict unrestrained consumption. In this thesis, I offer a reconceptualised perspective, which decentres the individual from analysis and considers the affective forces that constitute work in nightclubs. The principal aim of this research is to theorise how bar staffs’ occupational role has emerged in the NTE and to understand how affective forces shape their capacities as servers and regulators. Informed by the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, the thesis is underpinned by an alternative conception of human intention, activity and experience as constituted by forces, which provides the basis for its reconceptualised perspective on the issue of serving alcohol and regulating its consumption. This research began after eight years where the author worked in the nighttime economy and it adopts an ethnographic approach to the generation of data. This involved participant observation, interviews and focus groups aided by video elicitation, to account for many perspectives on the issue of alcohol consumption and its regulation at the nightclub. The thesis does not claim to definitively represent the problem of selling alcohol and regulation of its consumption in nightclubs, it offers perspectival insight into the phenomena it seeks to reconceptualise. Its insights are generated through a specific research site and a particular time and circumstance, therefore, while its findings may not be amenable to generalisation, its alternative way of thinking can challenge how work in nightclubs has been previously understood. To this end, the conceptual framework advanced in this thesis conceives work in the nightclub as the ‘suspension of desire’, which offers an alternative perspective on the problem of the sale of alcohol and the regulation of its consumption in a night-time hospitality venue. The thesis draws attention to the way employees become dependent on the forces that they must restrain, posing a risk to the security of their employment and a danger to their safety. In this respect, the thesis raises concerns over the way work in nightclubs has been understood and the principles by which it is organised within a capitalist political economy.

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04 Apr 2022 16:30
Last Modified:
24 Feb 2024 00:23