The Cocktail Waitress Analysis
Spradley and Mann chose to do their research at Brady’s bar because it is an ordinary setting where they could study interactions between male and female. First, Brady’s Bar provided a setting to define the female role. Secondly, it is a place where both male and female interactions are important and reflect traditional aspects of larger society. Lastly, the traditional aspects of Brady’s signified the traditional view of how women should present themselves as passive sex objects whose status is of lower hierarchy than men. There are three ethnographical principles that guided the study at Brady’s Bar.
The first principle states that “Every human group creates its own reality, a shared culture” (6). This concept was put in place throughout the research by gaining an understanding of the waitress’s backgrounds before working at Brady’s and studying how the employees work and view their status to the bar. This principle was also applied when the researchers studied the setting of the bar and how the employees, customers, and waitress interacted with one another. The second principle states that “Everyone takes their own culture for granted” (7).
This principle was applied when studying the male and female roles at Brady’s, the many verbal and non-verbal interactions that occurred between the waitresses, bartenders, and customers, and through the language that was used at Brady’s. The last principle that guided the research done at Brady’s bar states that “There is frequently more than one cultural perspective for any social situation. This principle was applied when researching the differences between male and female customers, male and female roles, male and female tasks, and when studying the differences between regular customers and customers off the street.
Each of these people viewed the social situation differently and was shown through their actions. 2. During the investigation at Brady’s Bar there were five research objections. The first objective was to study the division of labor that took place at Brady’s by examining the major tasks of the cocktail waitresses and the other employees. At Brady’s the jobs done by male and female employees signified their position as either male or female. Although, sometimes the waitresses were granted the opportunity to do a male’s work, men never did the women’s work.
Researching this particular objective showed that the role of the cocktail waitresses was to always ensure that they present themselves in a way that does not justify the men’s status of hierarchy. The next research objective was analyzing the formal structure of Brady’s bar, the social networks that that took place, and how the social structure reinforces the male and female values in American culture. Due to the fact that there are a variety of customers who all present themselves differently, the waitresses must be able to identify these differences and appropriately interact with each of them.
With this, it is important that the waitress is aware of the social hierarchy that is presented at Brady’s and also where she stands in this hierarchy The third objective that was researched at Brady’s Bar was the joking relationship that took place in order to resolve the structural conflict. The structural conflict presented at Brady’s is due to the waitress’s low status in the bar. She is always to ensure that the bartender is satisfied even if it makes her job harder. Although, she may have hard feelings about this, the joking relationship between the waitresses and bartenders helps to create a positive bond between them.
The bonds that form from this joking relationship, helps the waitress feel at ease, respect the bartenders, and creates a sense of dependency to the bartenders. The fourth objective researched at Brady’s was to examine the nature of territory at the bar and how it affects the waitress and other female customers. In Brady’s territory is split between the bartenders, the waitresses, and the customers. The bartender’s territory is behind the bar, the waitress’s territory is the waitress station, and the customer’s territory is the rest of the space.
The space given to the bartenders is secluded to only them and is only, rarely, invaded with his approval. Whereas, the space provided for the waitress’s is often invaded by both the costumers and the bartenders. Even though the space given to the customers is also where the waitress must work it is often hard for the waitress to move through customers due to their carelessness of her presence. When the waitress’s space is invaded or when they are held back from doing their job they must always remain passive.
The last objective researched at Brady’s was to determine the ways that people ask for drinks and how these ways reflect nteractions between male and female. Drinks are asked for in several ways that often make the waitress’s job much harder. In order to serve the customer to his/her satisfaction the waitress must have knowledge of all drinks served at Brady’s, be able to make corrections on any order that is stated incorrectly, give orders to the bartender in the correct way, and respond to interactions appropriately. Again, this objective shows that the role of the waitress is to ensure the satisfaction of the bartender as well the customer in any given situation.
The authors used participant observation and interview to do this research. I think the method of field work that provided the most insightful information was the method of participant observation. By watching how each person communicated, in any given setting, the authors were able to clearly show how the male and female roles varying within the bar and the meaning behind these roles. With this, by studying the interactions of people within Brady’s the authors were also able to show how these stereotypes of male and female roles are presented in the aspects of verbal and non-verbal communication. . I would define bar culture as an experience for males and females to interact in a community of people who are all present for similar reasons. Bar culture is adaptive and is expressed by patterns of learned behaviors and shared behaviors.
There are many types of customers that go to bars and each one has the ability to experience bar life. Weather the person is new to the bar; he/she can easily learn how to act appropriately in many different situations by simply observing the behaviors of others around them.
Although, bar culture is a place to provide such experiences, it also establishes hierarchies and presents symbolism between male and female roles that are also present in everyday culture. Bar culture follows the philosophical views of idealism and materialism through its social structure. Lastly, bar culture provides a place where people can express their human agency. This is because at the bar, people are able to take control of their life in ways they may not be able to in their everyday lives. 4. I have chosen Sharon and Denise to compare and contrast.
First, Sharon is the only waitress at Brady’s who has experience in working in a bar and has worked at Brady’s Bar much longer than any of the other girls. Sharon had two jobs, one at Brady’s Bar and the other as a secretary for Acme Insurance Company. Sharon did not attend college and did not enjoy her job at the insurance company nor interact with the employees there. Her job at the insurance company was much different than at Brady’s. She was not used to the language or interactions that she faced at Brady’s when she first started but she quickly got used to it.
Brady’s offered a family and she enjoyed working there much more then at her other job. Other waitresses at Brady’s often looked to Sharon for advice or information due to the fact that she had been working there much longer. Sharon was liked by most of the girls but did not get too involved in personal interactions with them. Because Sharon had been working at Brady’s longer than the other girls, she felt she had more authority on calling the shots for which part of the bar she wanted to work in. This often annoyed the girls.
Although, Sharon quickly learned how to interact with customers, by not going to college she may have struggled a little more than other girls because college can help people loosen up around others they don’t know or situations they are unsure of. Denise, on the other hand, attended college and applied for the job at Brady’s while she was working at a bank. Brady’s was her first experience as a cocktail waitress. On her first day, she felt scared and unsure of herself. Like Sharon, Denise did not know how to handle the language or the customers. She was unsure of how she was supposed to work in an environment that was as dark as Brady’s.
As the night went on, she quickly become accustomed to the dark atmosphere. At first it was hard for her to acquire all the skills necessary to complete her tasks as a waitress. Soon enough, just as Sharon, she was able to perform as a “good” waitress would and learned how to deal with customers. Unlike Sharon, Denise may have had an easier time adjusting to customers and certain situations because she attended college and may have been exposed to similar situations. 5. The relationship between the waitress’s and their managers is important when working at Brady’s Bar.
Since the managers are at the top of the hierarchy, the waitresses must serve to his satisfaction. All the girls at Brady’s respect the managers and pay close attention to their presence and instructions. The waitresses rarely come in contact with the managers, unless he is also a bartender, but when they do, they are all aware of his importance. If a manager is also a bartender the girls will submit to his authority but may also talk back or argue with him. The managers may watch the girls working and give them compliments or any other feedback necessary.
If given a compliment by the manager, the waitress feels a strong sense of gratitude. If the manager does otherwise, the waitress still remains gracious and assertive to his requests. The relationship between the waitresses and the bartenders is similar to the relationships between the managers and waitresses. Since he is a bartender, the waitresses are able to talk back, argue, or joke with him but will still obey by his rules because he is of higher status then the waitresses. The relationship between them is often very strong because they each depend on each other in order to do their job and also for moral support.
Although, the bartenders may joke or tease the waitresses, they provide her with a sense of acceptance and appreciation by giving her compliments or emphasizing his role as a care taker when needed. The relationships between the male customers and the waitresses vary depending on the type of customer. If the customer is considered to be a regular of the bar, she will accept any sexual remarks he may direct toward her rather than perceive the situation as inappropriate or annoying. Often times she will spend more time with a regular customer than a customer off the street.
When a regular enters the bar she notices him and automatically brings him his usual drink or another drink if asked too. Regular customers also create a sense of dependency for the waitresses because they will also play the care taker role if needed. If the customer is a male off the street the relationship is not as significant. The waitresses will satisfy his needs but in a less direct way then regular customers. If a male customer off the street is inappropriate she will passively reject his attempt and may avoid the customer as much as possible.
Whether the customer is a regular male customer or just a male customer off the street, the relationship between them and the waitresses is much stronger than any relationship between her and the women customers. This is because men make serving drinks much easier than women. The relationships between the waitresses and her female customers are much different than the other relationships. This is because females make the waitress’s job difficult due to their inability to order drinks simply, without a lot of questions. Also, female customers do not order in rounds, they pay separately, and are never satisfied.
When waitresses receive a table of girls they are not pleased. The waitresses often refer to the female customers in negative connotations and do not spend as much time tending to them as they do with male customers. Relationships between the waitresses and her male employees, and the relationships between her and the female and male customers are significant to her work and status. The relationships may make her feel comfortable or uncomfortable and may make her job easier or harder. Unlike, the presence of women, the male presence is always dominant at Brady’s and is to be kept that way.
This hidden rule defines the role of the waitresses and with the help of her many relationships she is able to appropriately present herself under any circumstance. 6. When asking for a drink at Brady’s Bar, there are several ways to go about this. First, men may ask for drinks while invading the waitress’s space by touching them or by using sexual remarks. If the waitress is not close enough to them the men may speak quietly so she has to bend over and they are then able to touch her. Even after the waitress rejects him he may continue this type of behavior throughout the night.
Asking for drinks in this manner makes the male customer feel that he is achieving qualities of manliness. With this, the men are able to express their fantasies while gaining acceptance into the manhood that is present at Brady’s. Secondly, tone of voice is significant when asking for a drink. Asking for a drink in the right tone of voice may help the customer achieve his/her goals. For example, when a customer ask for a drink in a quiet unconfident way the waitress may sense that he/she is either not yet experienced in bar life or that he/she is underage.
By asking for a drink with a confident tone of voice the customer might hide the fact that he/she is underage or not yet experienced. With this, the type of drink that is order also signifies the customer’s knowledge of bar life and again achieve his/her goals. As a man in the bar it is important to present himself in the right way to ensure his manliness and acceptance. By asking for the right drink with the correct tone he is able to achieve these important qualities. Next, ordering the “right” drink is important for men to ensure their manliness.
If a man was to order a girl drink, such as a Pink Lady, he would be perceived as weird or girly furthermore masking his manly qualities. By ordering a girly drink for someone else the man ordering feels powerful for the fact that he is joking about homosexuality in front of the waitress and other members of the bar. Because this is done in a humorous content no one has doubt about the masculinity of the man ordering or receiving the drink. Reciprocal exchange is another that customers can ask for drinks.
This type of order is when a customer will order a drink for another person in the bar for whatever reason. This implies that the customer knows other people in the bar; furthermore, expressing their ties amongst the social networks at Brady’s. By giving or receiving drinks, both customers have announced their membership and gain acceptance. When a customer is a regular he/she may order drinks nonverbally simply through his/her presence or through a gesture of the hand or by nodding the head. Asking for a drink in this fashion announces his/her status to the bar.
On occasion male customers may chose to express their drinking habits through drinking contests. Participating in a drinking contest proves that the customer can handle his alcohol and has social ties with others in the bar. Drinking contests symbolize his masculine traits through his willingness to compete and ability to hold his alcohol. Drinking contests brings male customers together, while women customers never participate in such contests. Finally, location is important when trying to achieve a high status, masculine qualities, or when trying to express one’s experience to bar life.
Sitting at the bar implies that he is a man and is not to be questioned. Sitting at a table implies that the drinker has less experience or in certain cases the drinker is not of age. Women rarely never sit at the bar because they do not perceive bar life in the same meaning as men. 7. Tasks performed by male and female employees at Brady’s Bar are significant to the gender stereotyping we often see in our everyday lives. Men are giving roles that are perceived as more important roles and women are giving roles that are less importance and support the men’s roles.
At Brady’s the waitress’s tasks include taking orders, giving orders, collecting payments, clearing empty tables, and emptying ash trays. The men’s tasks include taking orders from customers located at the bar, serving those customers, washing empty glasses, handling the money or other business transactions, and tidying the bar counter. While women express gratitude when giving the opportunity to do a man’s work, the men never do the women’s work because it would degrade their manly status. Within these tasks, there are other smaller tasks that are also performed.
For example, the waitress not only needs to remember the drinks that have been ordered but she needs to present the order in a way that makes it easier for the bartender. She also has to do any other tasks that are asked by the bartender. Although, the customer is of importance, the bartender is always first priority. When bringing drinks back to the table she must also try to squeeze her way through customers without spilling any drinks. Unlike, the tasks performed by the waitresses, the men’s job stay the same each day and he is never asked to do anything other than his normal duties. 8.
Although, this research was done in 1970 I believe that the author’s findings about gender roles, stereotyping, social positions, and statuses of men and women remain true in today’s culture. For example, men today are still getting paid more than women even if the woman qualifies for the job in the exact same way as the man does. This is because the roles of men in the workforce are still considered more important than the women’s roles in the workforce. There is still a hidden rule that takes place today stating that women should present themselves as passive but efficient in any situation.
While men are able to inappropriately touch women or make sexual remarks, women are not supposed to seem appalled by it though they have been clearly disrespected. Men usually dominate most social interactions weather at home, work, or in a bar. 9. I enjoyed reading this book because I feel the ethnography was done very well. The authors provided good information and explained the reasons for doing such studies thoroughly while also explaining the message of the research very well. The ethnography was very structured and captured many observations that can be transformed to American culture and our everyday lives.