Kinneret Lahad (Tel Aviv University)
Ethnography of Waiting in Line for Night Clubs in Tel-Aviv: Time, Emotions, and Inequality with Avi Shooshna (Bar-Ilan University)
The following paper explores the temporal dimensions and manifestations of ethnic discrimination and oppression. The relations between inequality, waiting, and emotions are surveyed based on ethnography of waiting in line to get into night clubs in Tel-Aviv (Israel). Previous studies (Bitton, 2011)have shown that in certain trendy clubs the waiting time for entry can range between an hour to an hour and a half and those who often do not pass the selection process are those marked as "ethnic" or "orientals" ( Jews from Arab countries). Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork, the findings of our research display multiple temporalities and temporal orientations. Our findings suggest that there are dramatic differences in the waiting experiences and temporal orders among subjects of European origin and Oriental ones. The first among them is "Party Time" Vs. "Prison Time. Those of European descent report that waiting time is considered part of the “foreplay” (as one of the interviewees has put it) before entering the club. Waiting time is described as time that passes quickly, mainly through interactions with friends who are also standing in line. By contrast, the waiting experience of the Oriental subjects is a slow one and is embedded with tension, alertness, uncertainty, and shame. The passage of time is described by them as “frozen time”, “nigger time”, and is especially experienced as “prison time”. Indeed, as Bourdieu (2000) has elaborated, the art of making people wait is an integral part of the exercise of power. In addition, we have also found that by “doing time” the oriental subjects attempt to “become white” by covering up and removing any of their ethnic features. In a sense, the effects of waiting time render the oriental selves as hyper-visible to themselves and others and construe the waiting line as an important site of interpellation (Althusser 1971). In conclusion, this pattern of ethnic queuing exemplifies Schwartz’s (1975) assertion that the distribution of waiting time coincides with the distribution of power and thereby produces and maintains differential access to power and privilege.
Kinneret Lahad is an associate professor lecturer at the NCJW Program of Gender and Women’s Studies at Tel-Aviv University. Broadly defined, her areas of interest include: theorizing singlehood, sociology of time, the cultural sociology of the family, feminist cultural studies, sociology of emotions and cyber culture. She is also working on a book that aims to develop a theoretical and critical analysis of singlehood in contemporary culture. She teaches various graduate and undergraduate courses and research seminars ranging from feminist cultural studies, sociology of gender and family life, media representations of romance, the study of singlehood and the sociology of time.
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from our workshop on Power, Time and Agency held in Manchester, January 2013