Beruf(en) im Verkauf – Soziale Positionierung und subjektive Bedeutung von Arbeit

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review



In Germany, the low-wage sector rises since several years. Reports mount evidences on bad working conditions in the lower service sector. This paper enquires how retail clerks position themselves in society and what the subjective significance of work consists in. Thus, this is a contribution to social inequality research using Bourdieu’s concept of habitus. 18 employees among them two vocational educators were interviewed with a guideline and their narrations about their life histories, education and employment were analyzed as case studies. As a result, three hypotheses, which sum up key findings of this study, are presented: Employees obtain a high working ethos, they internalize corporations’ expectations of efficiency, productivity and cost-effectiveness and enjoy collegial esteem. This means that people perform good work also under bad working conditions. They try to upgrade their social status by referring to capitalist oriented performance criteria.

Translated title of the contribution
Vocations for sale—Social positioning and subjective significance of work


Original languageGerman
Pages (from-to)43-63
Number of pages21
JournalOsterreichische Zeitschrift fur Soziologie
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2019

External IDs

ORCID /0000-0003-0170-7713/work/142250849


ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Food retail, Service sector, Social inequality, Subjective meaning of work, Work ethos