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Paper short abstract:
This presentation, based on an ethnographic research, analyzes the role of tips and wages in structuring work and class experiences of casino workers in Portugal. Money as tips assumes new meanings and produces a contradictory class experience that stimulates the overexploitation of these workers.
Paper long abstract:
Historically, for casino workers in Portugal, tips were the most relevant form of remuneration, not the wage. Today, tips and wages represent similar quantities in the overall remuneration of these workers. But tips and wages are qualified in very distinctive terms and are regulated by two antagonistic moral economies. This presentation, based on an ethnographic research, argues that both work and class experiences of pagadores de banca (croupiers/dealers) in Portuguese casinos are structured by this contradiction. That is, a contradiction in money forms produces a contradictory class experience and location. Wage is mostly associated with bills, food and other difficulties to meet living standards. Tips, on the other hand, are used to justify the conspicuous acts of consumption, like trips, the purchase of houses, cars and motorcycles. The first is matched to the asymmetrical class relations in Portuguese society, to the degradation of work and to the power dynamics that subordinates them in the workplace, the other to a relation of partnership between worker and client, to feelings of happiness and gratification. If the first is associated with the general condition of proletarian wage work and with feelings of affiliation with the working class, the other legitimizes the subjective identification with practices and values of middle class subjects. Money as tips assumes new meanings and produces different class and work habitus. But, as tips engender a contradiction in class experiences of these workers, they also enable the reproduction of class relations and the production of consent among subordinate groups.
Works and lives: new perspectives on economy and livelihoods in Mediterranean Anthropology [Mediterraneanist Network (MedNet)]