Date of Award

May 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Jackie Orr


emotional labor, gas stations, lesbians

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


This dissertation project is an interdisciplinary exploration of laboring lesbian bodies within the context of U.S. gas stations. I begin with an investigation of the history of gas stations in connection with the oil industry and the company for which they work. In addition, I examine how institutions of class, gender and sexuality are imprinted onto laboring lesbian bodies within the workplace. I suggest that the work within U.S. gas stations is now primarily feminized labor as is typical of the service economy. I also highlight the ways in which sexuality matters in the workplace through an analysis of the ways in which laboring lesbians perform emotional labor within this customer service environment. Emotional labor is a seminal contribution to a feminist analysis of the sociology of work. However, I am committed to complicating our understanding of emotional labor by attending more specifically to intersections of identity and geographical concepts of sexuality and space. As I explore how emotional labor is impacted by who is performing what for whom and where, an interdisciplinary lens becomes critical. To that end, I argue that the complexity of power is crucial to understanding the nuances of emotional labor through an intersectional analysis of class, gender and sexuality.


Open Access