In malls across the United States, clothing retail workers navigate low wages and unpredictable schedules. Despite these problems, they devote time and money to mirror the sleek mannequins stylishly adorned with the latest merchandise. Bringing workers' voices to the fore, sociologists Joya Misra and Kyla Walters demonstrate how employers reproduce gendered and racist "beauty" standards by regulating workers' size and look. Interactions with customers, coworkers, and managers further reinforce racial hierarchies. New surveillance technologies also lead to ineffective corporate decision-making based on flawed data. By focusing on the interaction of race, gender, and surveillance, Walking Mannequins sheds important new light on the dynamics of retail work in the twenty-first century.
Joya Misra is Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She studies inequality from an intersectional perspective, including within workplace organizations. She has published in an array of journals and had coedited three books.
Kyla Walters is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University. She studies race, gender, labor, and education politics using qualitative methods. She has published in journals such as Sociology of Race and Ethnicity and in several edited volumes.