This study analyzes how the “commercialized performance of affiliative race and ethnicity” (CPOARAE) generates boundary processes that disrupt established ethnoracial hierarchies. The CPOARAE involves three parties: managers of a service workplace, workers lowly positioned in the ethnoracial hierarchy, and ethnoracial majority customers. The managers hire workers to carry out affiliative racial and/or ethnic performance to make customers feel that they are being served by workers who belong to highly positioned ethnoracial groups. I analyze the symbolic boundary disorientations of Han-Chinese Hongkonger customers, which result from customers’ confrontation with ethnoracial ambiguity during CPOARAEs. These boundary processes show that despite being a capitalistic product and a popular cultural practice, CPOARAEs have the potential to disrupt and remake ethnoracial hierarchy. This study’s data are primarily collected from multiple in-depth interviews with 24 customers and participant observation in several restaurants, and secondarily from interviews with managers and workers.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- affiliative ethnic identity
- boundary processes
- global sociology of race and ethnicity
- performing race
- racial fluidity