Balancing multiple roles through consensus: Making revisions in haircutting sessions

Authors: Oshima, S.

Journal: Text and Talk

Volume: 34

Issue: 6

Pages: 713-736

Publisher: De Gruyter

ISSN: 0165-4888

DOI: 10.1515/text-2014-0024

This study demonstrates how participants in haircutting sessions merge different roles during one of the most sensitive moments of an encounter: requesting and/or making revisions to a new cut. During the process of arriving at a consensus of whether or not changes need to be made to the new cut, the stylist and the client negotiate not only the quality of the cut, but also their expected roles. Caring about both the bodies and the minds of customers is an important element in measuring the quality of cosmetological services, a consideration which may oblige stylists to immediately agree with and act upon every client request or concern. However, simply yielding to the customer’s opinions can threaten the stylist’s role as a beauty expert, one who possesses their own professional standards. The analysis reveals that the participants frequently transform revision requests/offers into mutual decisions through a combination of verbal and bodily actions. In doing so, they harmonize the sometimes conflicting responsibilities of “service provider/patron” and “expert/novice.”

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