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    Work-life mobility and stability: the employment histories of immigrant workers at a unionized Toronto hotel

    Watt, Paul (2012) Work-life mobility and stability: the employment histories of immigrant workers at a unionized Toronto hotel. Hospitality & Society 1 (2), pp. 117-136. ISSN 2042-7913.

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    This article examines the employment histories and future prospects of immigrants employed in main-grade and supervisory positions at a unionized hotel in Toronto. Using interview and observational data, the article examines the employment careers and experiences of the hotel's multiethnic workforce, who were disproportionately located in back-of-house departments. For most, their working lives in Toronto represented downward social mobility relative to their class positions in their countries of origin. This downward mobility was connected to the downgrading of their 'institutionalized cultural capital' since their foreign qualifications and work experience were generally considered invalid by Toronto employers. However, within the city's low-wage service and manufacturing sectors where immigrants are clustered, the workers regarded unionized hotel employment as offering relatively advantageous earnings, benefits and security. Unlike much of the international hotel industry sector, employment at the Toronto hotel was in many ways remarkably stable as seen in the longevity of job tenure. The factors leading to such stability are explored including low promotion prospects coupled with incremental progression via the union-negotiated seniority system. The article illustrates the point made by Gray that lower-end service jobs, such as found in hotels, are not necessarily inherently 'bad' (or 'good') in themselves, but that they are constructed as such via institutional arrangements including the role played by trade unions.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): cultural capital, immigrant workers, room attendants, seniority system, social mobility, unionization
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Department of Geography
    Research Centre: Moving Image, Birkbeck Institute for the (BIMI)
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 17 May 2013 10:30
    Last Modified: 14 Dec 2016 09:38


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