Distinction work and its consequences for women working as room attendants within five star hotels on the Gold Coast, Australia | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2042-7913
  • E-ISSN: 2042-7921



This article highlights women room attendants’ experiences of the consequences of distinction work in five five-star hotels located in the Gold Coast region of South East Queensland, Australia. Those consequences are demonstrations of deference, reification of lower social class standing and social ostracism. ‘Distinction work’ requires attendants to recognize the guest’s superior class position as a key part of service interactions. An ontologically intertwined research stance was used with socialist feminism and critical theory epistemologies and a qualitative constructionist grounded theory methodology. Interviews were conducted with 46 room attendants working at five five-star hotels. This research contributes to hospitality literature by focusing on the influence of broader socio-economic hierarchies functioning within hotels, an arena not usually encompassed within hospitality studies. We argue that ‘distinction work’ involves a process wherein the causal aspects of demonstration of deference to guests during interactions, and the conditional aspects of the lower social standing of room attendants within the broader socio-economic arena, result in embedded ostracism. This article presents a new perspective on the low social value currently placed on room attendant employment.


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