Kjerstin Gruys and David J. Hutson
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.
Jennifer A. Jordan
This chapter addresses some of the central themes in the inquiry into food, taste, and consumption. Specifically, it focuses on how researchers have investigated the causes and consequences of tastes in food, including structural position and identity, and consequences for bodies, and for social and physical landscapes. It is also essential for scholars of food and taste to take seriously the role of pleasure, as well as the effects of food consumption on broader social and physical ecologies. Tastes shape landscapes, affecting carbon production and biodiversity, groundwater and air quality. Researchers cannot study food tastes as somehow disembodied, and the best work in this area today attends to this nexus of pleasure and risk, symbolism and materiality. In addition, researchers in this arena need to be highly attuned to avoiding the centering of their own tastes as markers of good taste.
Jessi Streib, SaunJuhi Verma, Whitney Welsh, and Linda M. Burton
This article examines the culture of poverty thesis, focusing on its many lives, deaths, and reincarnations. It first considers the intellectual history of the culture of poverty thesis before discussing how the argument has been interspersed throughout U.S. history and applied to various groups. It then considers the argument’s scholarly reproduction, noting how it is underlain by a binary whereby segments of the poor, racial minorities, and immigrants are positioned as having a deviant, morally suspect culture that undermines their potential upward mobility, whereas white middle- and upper-class Americans are positioned as having a normal, morally upstanding culture that secures their class position. The article also describes four routine scholarly practices that engender a specter of support for the culture of poverty thesis. Finally, it argues that the culture of poverty should either be put to rest or allowed to live based on its own merits, and suggests ways to end its unintentional resurrection.