Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Political Science


Leonard Feldman

Subject Categories

Food Studies | Political Theory | Politics and Social Change | Work, Economy and Organizations


Tipping, Service, Gender Performance, Wage Exploitation, Sexual Harassment, Labour


The #MeToo movement and the growing spotlight on sexual harassment and misconduct has increasingly brought industries and individuals into the public eye. The restaurant industry is one such industry to receive this spotlight. While most of the coverage has stemmed from celebrities, the misconduct of celebrity chefs has been paralleled by the stories of servers and their customers. The NY Times published several articles on harassment in the restaurant industry and some specifically focusing on the abuses that tipped workers face. Often these workers were women. When asked about experiences of harassment, responses were often that servers felt that they “had” to accept harassment. Having to undergo harassment is something more than a propensity to let things ‘slide’. It is something which is far more insidious, it motivates bodies to continue to work under exploitative circumstances. In the restaurant industry, tipping is the tool which promotes the acceptance of harassment. It is a mechanism which uses this motivation to “have” to do something, but within a neoliberal rationality which responsibilizes, commodifies and incentivizes. It is within the neoliberal paradigm that we see the tipping mechanism capitalizing on relations, affect and emotion. To have to undergo harassment and accept it produces a particular subjectivity and it is tipping which incentivizes the relational nature of this experience as it places the server in a situation which makes them dependent in terms of economic necessity. I will explore how tipping relies on specific relations to mobilize bodies and make productive workers.