I hold a PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Davis. Prior to attending UC-Davis, I received a BA in Sociology, summa cum laude, from the University of Connecticut. I study culture, emotions, work, organizations, and inequality, specializing in qualitative analysis of the cultural production of gender and sexual inequality, organizational cultures, feeling management, the labor process, and the production of popular culture. I am also an actor and dancer, and have performed for Miles Anderson, Ellen Bromberg, Della Davidson, Peter Lichtenfels, and Doug Varone. I also collaborated on/assistant directed JanLee Marshal's Indecency (& Other Bawdy Bits), an original work about the life of Mary Frith, a.k.a. Moll Cutpurse, a thieving, cross-dressing, singing celebrity in 17th-century London.
Areas of Interest
Culture, Emotions, Gender, Sexuality, Work & Organizations.
2012. University of California, Davis. PhD, Sociology.
2006. University of California, Davis. MA, Sociology.
2001. University of Connecticut. BA, Sociology summa cum laude.
2012. Dissertation Writing Award, Graduate Studies, University of California, Davis.
2011. Dean’s Doctoral Fellowship for Excellence, Division of Social Sciences, University of California, Davis.
2010. Dissertation Fellowship, Humanities Institute, University of California, Davis.
2009. Dissertation Research Award, Institute of Governmental Affairs, University of California, Davis.
2009. Dissertation Writing Award, Graduate Studies, University of California, Davis.
2008. Thesis Fellowship, Labor and Employment Research Fund, Office of the President, University of California.
2008. Dissertation Writing Award, Graduate Studies, University of California, Davis.
2007. Winner, Pacific Sociological Association Award for Distinguished Graduate Student Paper (Elite Emotion Managers: The Case of Novice and Semi-Professional Actors).
Working in Wonderland: Culture, Power, and Performance in Theme Park Entertainment Work
My dissertation draws on ethnographic data to show how neoliberal organizational practices and competing cultural frames of work – a service frame and a theatrical frame – shape the labor process and work culture of two Entertainment departments in Wonderland, an American theme park. Wonderland’s entertainers deliver highly performative, interactive customer service and produce emotionally-charged “memorable moments.” They are also low-wage workers familiar with the management practices, precarity, and emotional labor that characterize service work. I find, however, that the presence of a theatrical frame of work, i.e., the explicit recognition by workers, management, and customers that entertainers do not embody their “real” selves on the job, shapes the organization and execution of service delivery. Because performers embody branded icons, management invests in an infrastructure that enables entertainers’ emotional labor, providing extensive amounts of support compared to other documented service jobs. The theatrical frame further creates opportunities for pleasure and play, as entertainment workers game the performative demands of their jobs to assert artistic identities and secure emotional reciprocity from park-goers. I also argue that, combined, the theatrical frame and Entertainment’s neoliberal organizational practices engender a playful homonormative work culture that challenges the heteronormative narratives of gender associated with the park’s branded characters. But play always unfolds within other power structures. So while the tension between the service and theatrical frames creates opportunities to challenge some power relations in the production of entertainment, it also reproduces hegemonic ideologies and inequalities, particularly around gender and sexuality.
(2016.) Research in the Sociology of Work, 28 (2).
Since the 1950s, the closet has been the chief metaphor for conceptualizing the experience of sexual minorities. Social change over the last four decades has begun to dismantle some of the social structures that historically policed heteronormativity and forced queer people to manage information about their sexuality in everyday life. While scholars argue that these changes make it possible for some sexual minorities to live “beyond the closet” (Seidman, 2002), evidence shows the dynamics of the closet persist in organizations. Research documents the various social forces responsible for the workplace closet’s tenacity, and thus provides blueprints for the conditions under which post-closeted work might emerge. Drawing on a case study of theme park entertainment workers, whose jobs exist at the nexus of these potentially-ideal conditions, I find that what initially appears to be a post-closeted workplace is, in fact, a new iteration of the closet: the walk-in closet. More expansive than the corporate or gay-friendly closets, the walk-in closet provides some sexual minorities with a space to disclose their identities, seemingly without cost. Yet the fundamental dynamics of the closet – the subordination of homosexuality to heterosexuality and the continued need for LGB workers to manage information about their sexuality at work – persist through a set of boundaries that contain gayness to organizationally-desired places.
(2010.) Research in the Sociology of Work, 20:227-52.
This paper draws on 17 months of ethnographic observations in the Parade department at an American theme park that I call Wonderland.The Parade department is a homonormative workplace, numerically and culturally dominated by gay men. I examine how this work culture challenges the dominance of heteronormative masculinity often embedded at work through an exploration of backstage interactions among performers. I also explore the gendered and racialized meanings of the camp aesthetic that performers embody. I argue that while Parade culture undermines workplace heteronormative masculinity, it also reproduces the epistemology of the closet through its reliance on the gay/straight binary.
(2008.) Social Psychology Quarterly, 71:143-56
Theatre provides a unique set of conditions for the management of emotions. Drawing on participant observation from one repertory theater, three university productions, and interviews with stage actors, directors, and acting instructors, I conceptualize actors as privileged emotion managers. Actors access structural resources that enable their ability to manage feelings onstage. Theatre’s division of labor, the rehearsal process, and formal training give actors important advantages in managing emotions compared to many other social settings, and demonstrate structural recognition of and support for feeling management. These structures outsource some of an actor’s emotion management and provide a set of institutionally prescribed strategies that actors use to manage feelings during a production.
(2012.) Sex Roles, 68:226-40. (with Diane Felmlee & Carmen Fortes)
We examine the process of romantic attraction in same-gender relationships using open and closed-ended questionnaire data from a sample of 120 men and women in Northern California. Agreeableness (e.g., kind, supportive) and Extroversion (e.g., fun, sense of humor) are the two most prominent bases of attraction, followed by Physical Attractiveness (e.g., appearance, sexy). The least important attractors represent traits associated with material success(e.g., financially secure, nice house). We also find evidence of seemingly contradictory attraction processes documented previously in heterosexual romantic relationships, in which individuals become disillusioned with the qualities in a partner that were initially appealing. Our findings challenge common stereotypes of same-gender relationships. The results document broad similarities between same-gender and cross-gender couples in attraction.
The Organization of Emotion.
Drawing on seventeen months of field work in theme park entertainment, the organization of emotions perspective is proposed and developed as a compliment to Hochschild’s theory of feeling management. Hochschild under-theorizes the role of context. More than a backdrop that informs the assessment of feeling, social settings have structures and practices that increase certain emotional outcomes over others. Entertainment management invests in an infrastructure designed to secure experiences and expressions of fun, joy, and emotionally memorable encounters, which shapes how performers execute and experience work. I conclude with some thoughts on how the perspective advances our understanding of feeling management.
A Tale of Three (Emotion) Economies. (with Laura Grindstaff)
The manipulation of affect – experiences of emotion, feeling, or sensation – is increasingly essential to both work and leisure in the contemporary US. The increased importance of affect coincides with the emergence of “emotion economies” – cultural infrastructures devoted to the production, promotion, and recompense of emotion/affect. This paper incorporates ethnographic data on reality TV and theme park entertainment to explore the differing practices and resources devoted to producing “authentic” emotional performances. We argue that different emotion economies engage in the production of emotional authenticity with different degrees (and kinds) of coordinated effort. Formal emotion economies, exemplified by theme park entertainment, provide an extensive cultural infrastructure (training, costumes, props, financial compensation, and a bureaucratic corporate context) that significantly increases the likelihood of performative competence but risk the perception of inauthenticity because of the salience of corporate scripting/branding. Consequently, the “payoff” for emotional labor for theme park workers is relatively low: continued theme-park employment. Reality TV participants face a more diffuse and unstructured emotion economy consisting of casting calls, one-off trainings and workshops, and instructional blogs and videos mostly available on the Internet. This DIY infrastructure requires them to assume greater responsibility for manipulating and embodying affect but at the same time has potentially higher returns – media celebrity -- because of the conflation of ordinariness with the perception of emotional authenticity. Attending to the cultural infrastructure of an emotion economy, then, provides insight into the accomplishment of, and “value” attached to, emotional performance as well as forms of stratification that emerge from the growing importance of affect under advanced capitalism.
The Politics of Recognition. (with Brian Halpin)
The importance of game play to the production of consent has been one of the major insights into the the labor process over the last four decades. Scholars have documented how games generate both status for workers and surplus value for companies. According to existing studies, workers' investment in games is based, in part, on financial incentive: work games are built around the potential to increase one's take-home pay. This begs the question: under what conditions might workers invest in game play without economic incentive from management? Drawing on a comparative case study of undocumented Latino kitchen workers in a high-end restaurant and gay-identified theme park entertainment workers, this paper examines how gender and precarity shape game play in the labor process. Rather than playing for additional pay, these workers attempt to secure dignity at work through games that help them accumulate gendered cultural capital that can be translated into recognition. This provides men with validation of otherwise stigmatized identities, and allows them to experience and claim a sense of personhood under precarious, objectifying work conditions.
SOC 122. Sociology of Adolescence.
SOC 132. Sociology of Gender.
SOC 135. Social Relationships.
Associate Instructor (UC-Davis)
SOC 159. Sociology of Work and Employment.
SOC 193. Workshop in Field Methods.
SOC 390a. The Teaching of Sociology.
Indecency (& Other Bawdy Bits)
Director: JanLee Marshall
2015. University of California, Davis.
Role: Assistant Director/Collaborator
A solo-show exploring the luscious life of Mary Frith, cross-dresser, sub-urban roarer, cutpurse, and friend. Written and performed by MFA candidate JanLee Marshall.
Photo Credit: Sojin Han
The Grapes of Wrath
Director: Miles Anderson
2014. University of California, Davis.
Collapse (suddenly falling down)
Director/Choreographer: Della Davidson
2007. Sideshow Physical Theater.
A dance/theater/media production that brings together a diverse group of artists and scientists to explore the varied ways that social and natural systems collapse, and the responses of human societies.
Performance excerpts on YouTube: goo.gl/u6SKg7
Review from Dancers Group: goo.gl/qrYbqs
A reflection on the nature of the creative process of Collapse (suddenly falling down), from the perspective of several collaborators.
Photo credit: Luiza Silva
Dancing on the Edge: Fractured Lives
Director/Choreographer: Doug Varone
2006. University of California, Davis
A series of interrelated vignettes, each with a dramatic agenda suggesting film noir, alternately turning from realistic to bizarre and from light-hearted to dark.
The Laramie Project
Director: Peter Lichtenfels
2004. University of California, Davis
Roles: Rob Debree, other ensemble parts
The Tectonic Theater Company's exploration, based on community-member interviews, of reactions to the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay-identified University of Wyoming student, in Laramie, Wyoming.
djorzechowicz [at] ucdavis [dot] edu
1 Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616