Pricing policies and culture at two Singapore hostess bars: is a grounded cosmopolitan ethics possible in such a setting?

Kieran Edmond James, Ali Aksa, Ataa Mahmood, Usman Mohammed, Nadia Rehman, Rex John Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We study two hostess pubs on Joo Chiat Road, Singapore - a “Filipina pub” and a “Vietnam pub”. We compare and contrast the customer demographics of each establishment, and the resultant culture, which is a function of the ethnic-group of the hostesses, the demographics of the customers, the policies and ethos of the owner/manager, and the pricing model whereby hostesses get financially rewarded. Regarding pricing model, the Filipina pub relies upon “ladies’ drinks” whereas the Vietnam pub fosters a tipping system. Whilst the ladies’ drinks model signifies a hyper-capitalist business environment, the tipping model is feudal, honour-based and debt-based. We use as a theoretical lens the concept of “cosmopolitanism” and ask whether a “grounded” “cosmopolitan ethics” is even possible in an industry which is attractive to customers largely because of its structural, racial, and gendered differences and inequalities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102516
Number of pages9
JournalWomen’s Studies International Forum
Volume88
Early online date6 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • cosmopolitanism
  • Filipinas
  • honour
  • hostess bars
  • ladies' drinks
  • Singapore

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