The Cocktail Waitress: Woman
154 pages, $23.95 list
eBook availability
The Cocktail Waitress
Woman's Work in a Man's World
A 1975 classic, this highly readable, in-depth study examines a familiar female role in contemporary American society. The authors apply fieldwork methods to the study of social behavior in a college bar—as viewed from the perspective of cocktail waitresses. They describe in detail the day-to-day lives of women and the meaning of work for women in a man’s world. Not a feminist tract, their book provides a wealth of empirical data on the nature of being female in our culture.

The Cocktail Waitress examines female/male relationships as well as patterns of male dominance in social interaction, and shows how these are linked to more general issues in anthropology. The work teaches important social science concepts while always dealing with the college student’s own world. Its objective presentation of the waitress casts light on significant social issues and the role of women in today’s society, together with the manner in which female-male roles are interlocked.
“From an academic and in particular a methodological perspective, this ethnographic study of bar culture stands the test of time. The way in which the authors masterfully use evidence to draw conclusions and the vivid descriptions of people, places, and events bring Brady’s Bar to life for the reader.” — Anthropology of Work Review

“Classic text in an excellent, easy-to-manage format. Students will find it very engaging.” — Katharine Keenan, CUNY, York College

“An excellent ethnographic analysis of the working world of women struggling to escape underclass life. A fine reissue of a classic, and an accessible book for university classes!” — Thomas M. Wilson, SUNY, Binghamton University

“Spradley was a gifted anthropologist who thought a lot about how to do fieldwork research in complex societies such as ours. He wrote several good books. The one that shows his research strategy best is probably The Cocktail Waitress: Women’s Work in a Man’s World (with Brenda Mann). After reading this one, you will never take waitresses for granted again—and you will understand more about the anthropology of modern life than you ever imagined.” — Martha C. Ward, University of New Orleans
Table of Contents
1. Bars, Women, and Culture
2. Brady's Girls
3. Division of Labor
4. Social Structure and Social Network
5. The Joking Relationships
6. The Territorial Imperative
7. How to Ask for a Drink
8. Woman's Work in a Man's World