In pursuit of looking good: Thai women office workers and everyday consumption practices at work
thesisposted on 01.06.2010 by Kosum Omphornuwat
In order to distinguish essays and pre-prints from academic theses, we have a separate category. These are often much longer text based documents than a paper.
Drawing upon my eleven-month ethnographic fieldwork in two business organisations in Bangkok, Thailand, this thesis explores Thai women office workers consumption of makeup and clothes at work. What emerges from this thesis is that a claim to beauty as a reason for which women are engaged in the consumption of makeup and clothes is not always valid. Grounded in theoretical discussions and empirical findings, I argue that the women s consumption of makeup and clothes is not always in the pursuit of beauty, but rather the pursuit of looking good. While beauty is perceived as an innate quality of the body, looking good entails the materialisation of the outer body through consumption practices in an attempt to achieve an ideal look. I introduce a concept of looking good practices. Looking good practices demonstrate the ways in which women office workers exert agency in mobilising their outer bodies to achieve an appropriate appearance at work. I argue that looking good practices entail a process of social learning. The women office workers learn to look good through the process by which they look at other women, participate in the practices shared amongst themselves, negotiate the meanings of appropriateness and reify such meanings through their consumption of makeup and clothes. By sharing meanings and practices, the women office workers inevitably participate in looking good practices, which, I argue, are social practices. My research also demonstrates how, through their engagement in the consumption of makeup and clothes, the women office workers aestheticise their bodies to be situated in the aesthetic workplace.
- Social Sciences
- Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies