16 Aug 2022


The Nail Salon Experiment: How to Get a Cheap Manicure

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Essay (Any Type)

Words: 558

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In Newyork city, the nail industry has become ubiquitous and most of these businesses are run by immigrants. Miliann Kang in her article The Managed Hand discusses how the Korean immigrants started the nail industry in Newyork and its influence on the society. Kang (2010) attributes the booming nail industry in Newyork by the immigrants as a result of limited English skills as well as systematic dynamics. Over the years, the introduction of strict business licensing has limited the rapid salon and beauty shop opening by immigrants. In this paper, I am writing on observations that I made on one of the nail Salons in Newyork city. The experiment was conducted both during the day and night. 

Two different types of labor were observed; emotional labor and body labor. According to Kang(2010), emotional labor refers to the type of service offered by workers to clients such that they feel encouraged, comfortable and enjoy the services offered to them. In all job settings both locally and globally, you will encounter different types of customers. Some may provoke negative emotions and therefore it is vitally important to train workers on the best practices of handling such customers. Failing to learn the best ways of handling frustrated customers may have negative impacts on the business. In a salon setting Kang(2010) states that workers should demonstrate emotional labor by offering satisfactory services to clients. The clients should always enjoy the services and feel happy. Workers should avoid expressing negative emotions, even when wronged or tired, they should always wear brilliant faces in the workplace. Sometimes manicurists go through hard times, they are supposed to attend to all the customers regardless of their race or social class. Imagine a scenario where a manicurist attends to a customer with stinking feet? They are not supposed to express dissatisfaction with such customers instead they should focus on improving job performance by attending equally to all the customers. In my observation experiment, I saw satisfied customers who enjoyed the manicure and pedicure services offered to them. In another instance, I saw a frustrated customer who was yelling over her phone while receiving manicure services. However, one of the workers in the salon was able to calm the client. Generally, the customer experience should always be positive. 

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The concept of body labor is different from emotional labor. Unlike emotional labor that requires workers to regulate their emotions in order to improve their relations with customers and co-workers, body labor involves the physical interaction between the worker and the client Kang(2010). Message in salon service could be an example of body labor. In this experiment the two types of body labor that I observed included; message on customers and improved hygiene standards that were appreciated by customers. 

The three types of body labor include; high-service, expressive and routinized. From the observations that I made, high-service body labor was demonstrated by the high-class individuals who preferred luxury and quality services. In this type of labor, clients expect high standard services and also expected the workers to be conversant with the queen's language. Expressive body labor was much less than the high-service body labor. Individuals observed in this category involved the lower-middle class earners. Majority of the customers preferred workers with artistry and painting skills. The routinized body labor involved lower-income individuals who preferred low price services. 

Generally, it was evident that different customers had varying preferences on the kind of services offered. Class and race were observed as some of the influencing factors. Salon workers demonstrated high emotional labor by giving their clients the best services without frustrating them. Customers expressed their joy and satisfaction on the quality of services that they received. 


Kang, M. (2010).  The managed hand: Race, gender, and the body in beauty service work . Univ of California Press. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). The Nail Salon Experiment: How to Get a Cheap Manicure.


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