'It's a guesthouse not a brothel': Policing sex in the home-workplace

Di Domenico, MariaLaura and Fleming, Peter (2009). 'It's a guesthouse not a brothel': Policing sex in the home-workplace. Human Relations, 62(2) pp. 245–269.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726708100359


This article aims to explain why guesthouse or `Bed & Breakfast' proprietors in the UK attempt to police sex among guests. Unlike interactive service situations that take place in more neutral locations, guesthouse proprietors open their homes to customers. We propose that they attempt to regulate sexual conduct (as well as other behaviours) in an attempt to delineate their homes as a traditional sphere of family values and purity. Sex is `useful' in this regard for defining what their home is not — a `seedy' hotel or even a brothel. The article presents evidence of the specific regulatory mechanisms deployed by proprietors and the rationale behind them. The research contributes to the interactive service work literature by illustrating the unique tensions experienced by this subset of home-workers, and the organizational sexuality literature, by exploring its importance in settings where the putative private/public dichotomy is overtly undermined.

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