The Bellman and the Prison Officer: Customer Care in Imperfect Panopticons
The Host Gaze in Tourism. O. Moufakkir and Y. Reisinger (eds), CABI 2012, 191-202
17 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2015
Date Written: January 21, 2015
The purpose of this chapter is to compare and contrast these two different kinds of professional gazes; that of the hotel bellman and that of the prison officer. The point of comparison is often to be able to show something new about the things compared. Introducing a new contrast agent may make something already known appear in a new light. By comparing the two, I am not saying that hotel employees in every way are very similar to prison officers, nor that hotels and prisons generally have very much in common. What I want to do, rather, is to put the professional prison guard gaze analytically to use in order to say something new about the host gaze employed in hotel lobbies around the world. At the same time, and equally interesting, the bellman gaze thus analyzed cannot help but return the favor and reflect back on and comment on the prison officers and their optics and practices of power. The two different kinds of gazes compared will thus be put to work as each others’ mirrors, hopefully giving novel insights on both sides as a result. More precisely, I am going to show that both professions, although radically different in many ways, have in common a way of seeing which tries to balance professional customer care with specific control duties. I want to show that these different kinds of gazes have in common a dual optic partly focused on the needs of others, partly on the potential problems and dangers these others represent.
Keywords: Prison officers, hotel staff, host gaze, Foucault, panoticon
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