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The Hungry Cowboy
Service and Community in a Neighborhood Restaurant

By Karla A. Erickson

192 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, bibliography, appendix, index

978-1-60473-206-1 Cloth $50.00S

9781617030512 Paper $30.00D

Cloth, $50.00

Paper, $30.00


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In 2014-2015 University Press of Mississippi is closed for the holidays Tuesday, December 23, and will reopen Monday, January 5, 2015. Orders sent by Paypal through Friday, December 12, at 11 a.m. Central will ship in time for Christmas. After December 12, customers desiring shipping before Christmas should call 1.800.737.7788 and ask for rush delivery. Please be prepared to pay extra for rapid shipping. Orders that come to our website through the holidays (December 23, 2014-January 2, 2015) will begin shipping on January 5, 2015.

A behind-the-scenes look at the dynamics of class, race, and economics in a suburban eatery

At a Tex-Mex restaurant in a Minneapolis suburb, customers send Christmas and Hanukkah cards to the restaurant, bring in home-baked treats for the staff, and attend the annual employee party. One customer even posts in the entryway a sign commemorating the life of his dog. Diners and servers alike use the Hungry Cowboy as a place to gather, celebrate, relax, and even mourn. Moments such as these fascinate Karla A. Erickson, who worked for the restaurant, and they make up her new book The Hungry Cowboy.

Weaving together narratives from servers, customers, and managers, Erickson explores a type of service work that is deeply embedded in personal relationships and community. Feelings, play, and emotions are inseparable from the market transactions within the restaurant. Based on extensive interviews and two years of working as a waitress, Erickson provides insights into the ways that people make contact in our society and how they build on the fleeting connections in the service exchange to form more intimate relationships.

Written for readers, scholars, and students interested in American culture, consumerism, and community, The Hungry Cowboy offers a case study in how consumers and producers in the marketplace perform, and how dignity, meaning, and community can all be built at work.

Karla A. Erickson is assistant professor of sociology at Grinnell College. She is coeditor of Feminist Waves, Feminist Generations: Life Histories of a Movement. Her research has been published in Qualitative Sociology, Symbolic Interaction, Ethnography, and Space and Culture.

192 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, bibliography, appendix, index