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Paid to Party: Working Time and Emotion in Direct Home Sales

Jamie L. Mullaney
Janet Hinson Shope
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hjdww
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  • Book Info
    Paid to Party
    Book Description:

    On any given night in living rooms across America, women gather for a fun girls' night out to eat, drink, and purchase the latest products-from Amway to Mary Kay cosmetics. Beneath the party atmosphere lies a billion-dollar industry, Direct Home Sales (DHS), which is currently changing how women navigate work and family.

    Drawing from numerous interviews with consultants and observations at company-sponsored events,Paid to Partytakes a closer look at how DHS promises to change the way we think and feel about the struggles of balancing work and family. Offering a new approach to a flexible work model, DHS companies tell women they can, in fact, have it all and not feel guilty. In DHS, work time is not measured by the hands of the clock, but by the emotional fulfillment and fun it brings.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5215-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-18)

    In an interview with aCBS Evening Newsreporter, a former psychotherapist turned Mary Kay makeup sales representative (frequently dubbed “consultants”) explains the paradox of the “lipstick indicator,” a notableincreasein sales of personal care products during economically tough times. She explains: “A woman can’t afford to go out and buy a new suit or a new outfit or weekly therapy, but she can afford a $13 lipstick.” Beyond the emotional and therapeutic work a good lipstick can do for a paying customer, the consultant insists that working for a direct home sales company also has an important financial...

  5. CHAPTER 1 CREATING A FEEL–GOOD BUSINESS: NEGOTIATING THE WORK–FAMILY PIECES
    (pp. 19-46)

    My approach to you is not that of a prophet, nor do I seek fame as a teacher of the tested thoughts in life. I feel sincerely that I did not indeed discover the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow when I found the will to wish. It is my strong conviction that rewards are sweeter when they are shared with those around you. And I come as a friend who wishes that all my friends will find the way to happiness!

    A very vivacious young woman sparkled up to me during a recent meeting in Denver....

  6. CHAPTER 2 FROM TEMPORAL ACROBATS TO ARCHITECTS: FLEXIBILITY GETS A MUCH-NEEDED MAKEOVER
    (pp. 47-67)

    Imagine having time to take a salsa class in the afternoon, hang out with friends on a weeknight, or spend the morning with your son or daughter building a fortress for stuffed dinosaurs. “You can have all this and more!” we are told around 8 or 9 p.m. during a company’s regional meeting near our college’s campus. Coincidently, just as we begin to get in the spirit by allowing our thoughts to drift to such possibilities, one of our children texts, “Mom, when are you going to be home?”

    Flash forward five years. No longer collecting data and spending time...

  7. CHAPTER 3 OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW: CHANGING HOW WOMEN FEEL ABOUT WORK
    (pp. 68-87)

    When Studs Terkel interviewed workers all over the country about their jobs in the 1970s, their voices painted a rather grim picture of working life. After listening to their stories and documenting the collective mood, Terkel wrote these rather dispiriting words to introduceWorking:

    This book, being about work, is, by its very nature, about violence—to the spirit, as well as to the body. It is about ulcers, as well as accidents, about shouting matches as well as fistfights, about nervous breakdowns as well as kicking the dog around. It is above all (or beneath all) about daily humiliations....

  8. CHAPTER 4 THE GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT: SOCIAL TIME AND OBLIGATION
    (pp. 88-106)

    The postcard that arrives in the mail, tucked between bills and sales flyers, invites us to a party “where fun, friends, and fragrance will surround and delight” us. The product message is secondary to the emphasis on “a good time with friends,” and we are promised “no pitch, no pressure—just a good time.” A handwritten note on the card reminds us of the benefits of attending: “meeting people, having fun, making friends, getting products, and drinking wine.” We have lost count of how many invitations we have received over the years, yet it was the mere appearance of the...

  9. CHAPTER 5 LET THE GAMES BEGIN: THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAYING ALONG
    (pp. 107-126)

    In Chapters 2 and 3, we described the process of emoting time in DHS, specifically how fostering certain temporal and emotional experiences draws women into the industry. Although joining a company may afford many benefits for consultants—namely, a new experience of work—the industry also highlights the perks afforded to hostesses and customers in the context of the business’ primary venue: the home sales party. Some of the rewards that party attendees receive are material in nature, such as free and reduced products, but, as we illustrated in Chapter 4, the larger proffered benefits of attending a party are...

  10. CHAPTER 6 JUST NOT BUYING IT: FIELDING RESISTANCE TO DHS
    (pp. 127-147)

    The DHS mockumentary,Believe, opens with Mark Fuller—an enthusiastic, multilevel marketing distributor with gelled hair, an overly white smile, and a surname out of the DHS history books (Fuller Brush company)—looking into the camera and asking “Are you ready to make some money?!” Making money, Fuller tells his listeners, is as “easy as one, two, three”: 1) selling soap, laxatives, cereals, and a plethora of other products to “your mother, your coworkers, your downline, even yourself”; 2) sponsoring other people through the process of “duplication”; and 3) educating yourself on how to make more money through Believe University,...

  11. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 148-156)

    When we started this project, we were curious how an almost $30 billion industry with more than sixteen million consultants had almost managed to escape sociological scrutiny (see Biggart 1989; Williams and Bemiller 2010), particularly since direct home sales challenges dominant structures of work. After talking with consultants and listening to the DHS pitch at company gatherings, we realized direct home sales is about more than hand-crafted baskets or restorative skin creams. In addition to stoneware and seasonings, companies sell ideas about work and time, which at this particular historical moment have tremendous cultural saliency, particularly to middle-class women.

    The...

  12. APPENDIX A. GETTING OUR OWN PARTY STARTED: STUDYING DIRECT HOME SALES
    (pp. 157-172)
  13. APPENDIX B. INTERVIEW GUIDE FOR DHS CONSULTANTS
    (pp. 173-174)
  14. NOTES
    (pp. 175-178)
  15. REFERENCES
    (pp. 179-188)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 189-194)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 195-196)