Research Output
Hospitality through poetry: control, fake solidarity, and breakdown
  Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore issues of control, fake solidarity and breakdown in hospitality. Following Robinson and Lynch, the need to explore the subjective experience of hospitality through literature is identified as being highly important to the understanding of this social phenomenon. One poem was chosen as a means of exploring subjective dimensions of hospitality and a detailed study was undertaken.
Design/methodology/approach – From a total of 60 published poems on hospitality originally identified, one poem was selected owing to the interesting conceptual issues it raised, “Coffee with the meal” by Ogden Nash. The method of analysis is a sociolinguistic study from a critical discourse analysis perspective.
Findings – Issues are elicited concerning management control, the micro‐ and macro‐universes affecting hospitality (as defined in Robinson and Lynch), the significance of forms of discourse in the construction of hospitality, issues leading to a breakdown in the consumer's perception of the hospitality experience. In Ogden Nash's poem, the breakdown is presented at the inter‐personal level between the service provider (the waiter) and the customer.
Research limitations/implications – The investigation of sociolinguistic discourse from a critical discourse analysis perspective, applied to textual analysis provides a potentially valuable tool for analyzing literature in the search for insights into the assumptions and cultural discourse about hospitality. In this case, the chosen poem suggests that experiences of hospitality in commercial hospitality settings are subject to control by service deliverers. The insights provided can be instructive as comments on the experience of being a guest in commercial contexts. The poem is illustrative rather than representative.
Practical implications – The analysis of these poems can be useful in developing a sensitive awareness of service breakdowns and the perceptions of customers. The research can assist in the development of a more customer‐centric approach to guest and host relations in commercial settings. Discussion focuses upon the significance of discourse, how we know hospitality, curriculum implications and means of advancing qualitative research methods used in hospitality.
Originality/value – The use of literary criticism of poems is a unique approach which suggests that the study of hospitality can be informed invoking a multidisciplinary approach, by insights from fields of study not immediately linked to the management of commercial hospitality operations.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    31 December 2007

  • Publication Status:


  • DOI:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    HD28 Management. Industrial Management

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    650 Management & auxiliary services


Robinson, M. G., & Lynch, P. A. (2007). Hospitality through poetry: control, fake solidarity, and breakdown. International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, 1(3), 237-246.



Hospitality services, Poetry, Literary criticism,

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