Preserving masculinity in service work: An exploration of the underreporting of customer anti-social behaviour

Victoria Bishop*, Catherine M. Cassell, Helge Hoel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores bus drivers' underreporting of passengers' anti-social behaviour within the UK bus industry. Anti-social behaviour is a widespread phenomenon affecting a large proportion of the working population across many sectors and occupations. Although internal reporting systems can provide organizations with necessary information to tackle this problem, where employees regularly fail to report anti-social behaviour and where such underreporting is endemic, any effort to address the problem is likely to fail. Given this importance of reporting, an understanding of the factors affecting widespread underreporting is essential. Taking an interpretive, ethnographic approach, we explore bus drivers' accounts of the reasons for underreporting, as well as why bus drivers construct their interpretations in this way. In attempting to answer this question we found that underpinning participants' reasons for underreporting, was a dominant culture of masculinity. Introducing gender to the underreporting literature, we examine the construction of masculinity in the area of male dominated service work, a relatively under-researched area. This article draws on data taken from multiple qualitative methods including semi-structured interviews, participant observation, observation and analysis of formal documentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-25
Number of pages21
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009


  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Customer abuse
  • Customer-worker
  • Emotional labour
  • Gender
  • Masculinity at work
  • Reporting statistics
  • Service work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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