Spring 2020 Alum interview: Jacqueline A. Ross

Jacqueline A. Ross (M.A., 2019) is a Doctor of Philosophy Student at the School of Sociology, Politics, and International Studies at Bristol College in England. Her research focuses on tipping as a technique of labor control, and how this technique is integral to emerging apparatuses of control in contemporary political economy of the capitalist core states.

Maxwell Fuerderer: Explain your research focus. Is it similar or different from what you worked on as a Master’s student at CUNY? 
Jacqueline Ross: The research is an outward extension of the work I did in my Masters work at CUNY. The research question asks: ‘what can the study of tipping, with specific emphasis on the server in the restaurant industry, reveal about the generation of social relations of domination, exploitation, and appropriation in the neoliberal paradigm’? The research will look at tipping as not only a form of remuneration but as a technique of labour control which relies on norms of gender, race and class in the specific location of “The Hamptons” in New York. The underlying objective of the research is twofold. The first objective pursues an investigation into tipping which focuses on those who are exposed to it and how they are affected economically, socially and experientially. The second objective seeks to unpack tipping in terms of its political economic function, history, and contemporary use.
MF: Your research focuses on tipping as a technique of labor control. How does this practice affect social relations? 
JR: Tipping is a custom reliant on customer charity, so the impersonal economic relations that exist within the wage relation between customer and worker become blurred. Social relations emergent in the realm of tipping are informalized and result in; 1) an increased need for workers to perform emotional labor subjecting them to control beyond the wage relation; 2) a control located in affective relations of power; and 3) a control akin to emerging discourses that constitute and identify neoliberalism. It is not that full-waged workers do not have to perform affective and emotional labor; it is rather that workers who are tipped are directly remunerated based on their ability to appeal to the subjective needs of various individuals.
MF: How did the Master’s Program at the GC help you prepare for your doctoral program?
JR: The Master’s Program at the GC was excellent in my opinion. The most important and preparatory element of the program was the calibre of teaching and the dedication of my professors. It was obvious that my professors had a sincere love for and interest in the courses they were teaching. The expectations of the professors were high but this allowed for an increased depth in conversation during the seminars that propelled them to an advanced level.
MF: Any reflections on your time as a student at the GC?
JR: Although I was not able to take part in department events as much I would have liked, due to a two hour commute each way, the social element of the department was obvious. The theory seminars in particular created a space for participation in academic conversation outside of the classroom. The dedication of professors, calibre of students, and the amalgamation of the social with the academic were all fundamental elements of the program. I still miss my seminars at the GC and would love to return in some capacity in the future!