Hager Amer


This thesis analyzes the social world of beauty salons and the lives of Egyptian female beauty workers. Through an ethnographic analysis of the everyday interactions inside the beauty salons, this thesis presents the dynamics of labor relations and class formations. The aim of my research is to bring the social world of the salon into life. I hope to demonstrate a move away from the traditional studies of the beauty industry that highlight women insecurities about their bodies and their experiences in meeting the beauty standards. It is also not my intent to investigate the relation between physical appearance and women’s chances in securing better jobs. As a result of the two previous mentioned reason s, women desires for beauty services have increased dramatically. My goal then is to learn about the female beauty workers who serve those women in meeting the standards of beauty. It is my attempt to show how the gendered spaces of salons are used as sites of reproducing feminized social divisions. I am particularly concerned of the new identities that beauty female workers construct in the beauty salons and what influence does the salon location have on shaping those new identities. Studying beauty salons offers a rich site of observing gendered labour power relations inside the workplace. I analyze labour dynamics and hierarchy of authority inside the beauty salon. Labour dynamics are analyzed through the investigation of patterns of interactions among female beauty workers, clients and employers. I want to move beyond theoretical debates about service work in general to a more concrete analysis of the everyday lives of beauty workers. I decided to focus my study on those workers in particular not only because they have been overlooked by theorists but also because workers themselves do not comprehend the importance of engaging their labor dynamics in public debates. In addition, studying the dynamics of work in Egyptian beauty salons, offer new ways to think about different gendered meanings that are projected in the workplace that favor male workers while devalue female workers. Since female beauty workers’ services are always perceived as doing the dirty work, it is thus essential to explore their strategies of coping and resistance.


Cynthia Nelson Institute for Gender and Women's Studies

Degree Name

MA in Gender & Women's Studies

Graduation Date


Submission Date

January 2014

First Advisor

Rieker, Martina

Committee Member 1

Sabea, Han

Committee Member 2

Terrell, Jennifer


91 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Beauty shops -- Egypt.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Women -- Egypt -- Social conditions.


The author retains all rights with regard to copyright. The author certifies that written permission from the owner(s) of third-party copyrighted matter included in the thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study has been obtained. The author further certifies that IRB approval has been obtained for this thesis, or that IRB approval is not necessary for this thesis. Insofar as this thesis, dissertation, paper, or record of study is an educational record as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 USC 1232g), the author has granted consent to disclosure of it to anyone who requests a copy.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item