Contemporary social life is often depicted, in and out of the social sciences, as an ever-worsening subterfuge of alienation, ennui, and the systematic destruction of traditional, human-scaled, publicly-accessible, “organic” sociality that people once enjoyed. In this paper I do not contend that these trends in our social and commercial landscape are not happening. I will instead contend that conventional face-to-face sociability thrives even in the face of the loss of many traditional public meeting places. My focus in this piece is on social interaction in independent cafes that are known, and that self-identify, as what coffee connoisseurs term “third-wave” coffeehouses. Deploying the analytic perspective of ethnomethodology, which prioritizes and problematizes the observed and reported lived experiences of research subjects, I argue not only that “authentic” sociality flourishes in these spaces but I also consider the role of shop employees—baristas—in them and uncover their perceptions concerning social interaction between themselves and customers. As such I not only question prevailing understandings about the “death” of traditional sociability but also add to past research on the coffeehouse as social form by problematizing, for the first time, the work world of the baristas and their interactions with customers.
Space, Sociability, Coffee, Culture, Ethnomethodology, Qualitative Interviewing
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Recommended APA Citation
Manzo, J. (2015). “Third-Wave” Coffeehouses as Venues for Sociality: On Encounters between Employees and Customers. The Qualitative Report, 20(6), 746-761. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/2015.2141