Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Martha Copp

Committee Members

Theresa A. Lloyd, Lindsey King


Through in-depth interviews with 14 restaurant servers who worked in "casual dining" restaurant chains, this study explores service work and servers' perceptions of restaurant culture. Interactions between servers and customers are examined through the lens of servers' personal experiences. The analysis of interview data focus on how servers understand their role, how "casual dining" restaurant chains try to avoid the appearance of fast food outlets, and how "the customer is always right" slogan affects servers and customers. As a response to difficult and inflexible structural conditions present in restaurant work, servers establish short-lived camaraderie with each other through games, harassment, and deriding low-status customers to get through their shifts. The thesis closes by examining possible ways to combat the effects of this exploitative industry on servers.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.