Paper on The Job that I Would Absolutely Refuse to Take

There would be several contenders for the award of the title of my nightmare job: call-center operator, San Marino goalkeeper, Katie Price’s proofreader, but the top of the list would definitely belong to a security operative; whether a doorman, steward or site watchman.

Uniformity seems to pervade everything in the security industry: the clothes, the stance, the expressions, the attitude, and I would struggle to function in a role that seemed to require me to relinquish my identity, that is one of the reasons why it is a job that I would absolutely refuse to take.

Rafaeli and Pratt, in their study on organizational dress, refer to homogeneity of dress as one dimension, and conspicuousness as the second. Conspicuousness, particularly in a retail environment, has advantages for staff and customers; it’s so much easier in B&Q, for example, to consult a staff member for help if they’re wearing a uniform, even if it’s just a tabard. Homogeneity, however, is a different issue altogether. Pratt and Rafaeli describe struggles about deeper meanings and identities that dress represents.

The stereotypical security man (there seem to be very few women working in this industry) is shaven-headed, broad of frame, attired in dark anonymous clothing and dour of expression. Work duties seem to entail long periods of dormancy punctuated by brief spells of intervention, most of which seem to involve them in prohibiting an activity. They stringently oppose any deviation from company policy and forward all but the simplest request to another authority. The very concept of people enjoying themselves seems alien to them; they seem to prefer people to be docile and sheep-like.

I simply cannot imagine working in a role that would discourage me from free thought and encourage to be prohibitive. The infamous Stanley Milgram experiment, which purported to administer electric shocks on students each time they submitted a wrong answer to a question that the experiment controller asked them, is often cited as an example of how the power of non-thinking compliance dehumanizes people. So I’d absolutely refuse to be a security operative.

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