Close Encounters: intimate service interactions in lap dancing work as a nexus of ‘self-others-things’

Sophie Hales, Kathleen Riach, Melissa Tyler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing on ethnographic research on lap dancing work, this paper focuses on how the subjectivities, interactions and settings that constitute the lap dancing industry come into being through three interrelated processes of encoding, embodying and embedding. In considering how these processes combine to ‘enact’ the industry, the paper draws on Merleau Ponty’s understanding of the world as a dynamic nexus of ‘self-others-things’. Focusing on how this nexus shapes lived experiences of intimate service interactions, the analysis considers how dancers continually negotiate customers’ expectations of the service encounter given the ways in which these are: (i) encoded in depictions of lap dancing work in marketing and advertising materials on club websites; (ii) embodied by lap dancers through their interactions with customers; and (iii) embedded within the materiality of lap dancing clubs. The paper shows how intimate service encounters can be understood as the outcome of a nexus of ‘self-others-things’ through which particular organizational subjectivities and settings are brought into being through these three interrelated processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-574
Number of pages20
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • embedding
  • embodiment
  • encoding
  • gendered sexuality
  • lap dancing industry
  • Merleau Ponty
  • organizational settings
  • subjectivities

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