De-normalizing harassment and (threats of) violence in the hospitality workplace

The overall purpose of this project is to identify and analyze the strategies employed in order to prevent and deal with sexual and racist harassment and (threats of) violence in the Swedish hospitality workplace.


Thus, we will explore and analyze the strategies deployed by a) management and b) workers, individually and collectively, in order to cope, prevent, and counteract harassment and (threats of) violence.

A secondary purpose is to provide a thorough examination and analysis of the conflicting aims and contradictions that seem to exist in the hospitality workplace, and which might constitute a barrier to effective, preventive action. For instance, how do prevention strategies jive with the prevailing credo in many hospitality workplaces that ‘the customer is always right’? How do prevention strategies harmonize with casual employment and staff turnover? How do frontline staff balance expectations of acting in a hospitable, accommodating and pleasant manner, and the risk of being perceived as an object of sexual fantasies and desires?

The study is conducted in the form of individual but also focus group interviews with managers and employees in a selection of hospitality workplaces of varying sizes, which cater to diverse market segments. The focus will be on staff representing the following categories: 1) kitchen and waiting; 2) cleaning; 3) reception and conference; and 4) managers at the director and departmental level.

The project will contribute to in-depth knowledge of the working environment and working conditions in a growing and international industry, which, to a large degree, relies on young adults and immigrants, groups generally viewed as holding a vulnerable position in the labour market. The research is expected to contribute with recommendations and action proposals to improve the opportunities for achieving sustainable psychosocial work environments and attractive workplaces.

From a theoretical standpoint, this research engages with processes of socio-spatial divisions of labour/assemblages of labour; it aims at promoting our understanding of the inherently spatial but, according to labour geographers, undertheorized concepts such as the workplace and work environment, and it tries to broaden our understanding of agency as a spatiotemporal, and thus a variegated, phenomenon. Last but not least, it explores the meanings of the hospitable body at work, whether this is the corporeal body or the imagined body.

This research is funded by AFA Insurance,, and runs from 2019-03-01 to 2022-02-28.

Project leader

Kristina Zampoukos

Universitetslektor|Senior Lecturer

010-142 79 12

Project members

Klara Persson

Forskningsassistent|Research Assistant

010-142 83 34


AFA Försäkring