Office: 250 SS&H
Office hours: Tuesdays/Thursdays 3:30-5pm & by appointment
Classes: Sociology 3 (Social Problems) & Soc 125 (Sociology of Culture)
David Orzechowicz (pronounced or-uh-KOR-vettes) received his Bachelor's degree in Sociology, summa cum laude, from the University of Connecticut before entering the PhD program in UC Davis's Sociology department. He is broadly interested in the sociological study of performance and how it intersects with culture, emotions, gender/sexuality, and work. This includes both formal performance (i.e. the artistic activity), the everyday performances people do in social interaction, and performance reception - how people understand and value the performances of others. David's research nurtures his love for performing. In graduate school, he has performed in a variety production, from Shakespeare to cutting-edge dance theatre to theme park parades. His published work looks at stage actors and emotion management ("Privileged Emotion Managers: The Case of Actors," Social Psychology Quarterly, June 2008), attraction processes in same-gender relationships (with Diane Felmlee and Carmen Fortes, "Fairy Tales: Attraction and Stereotypes in Same-Gender Relationships," Sex Roles, February 2010), and homonormative workplace masculinity ("Fierce Bitches on Tranny Lane: Sexuality, Culture, and the Closet in Theme Park Parades," Research in the Sociology of Work, September 2010).
David's dissertation, titled "Working in Wonderland: Work, Culture, and Spectacle in Theme Park Entertainment," is an ethnographic study of entertainers in Wonderland (a pseudonym). Wonderland is a Disney-like, American theme park; in addition to themed rides, it offers park-goers a chance to watched stage shows and traveling parades, and interact with costumed characters. He draws on seventeen months of participant observation in Wonderland's Character and Parade departments to conceptualize theme park entertainment as a case on interactive "spectacle" - that is, a set of social relationships mediated by images. Relationships between customers, workers, and management are mediated by representations of characters and, more generally, by images and representations of the company - the particular look, set of emotional expressions, objects, and interactions that characterize the park - that performers bring to life.
Theming (or branding) and performance have become central to the work experience in a wide range of jobs and companies. In particular, there is a boom in low-wage, interactive service work - such as hairstyling, sex work, and food and beverage service - which requires considerable interaction between workers and clients. An important dimension of this labor is that how workers perform (behave and interact) is part of the service being bought and sold. Amusement and theme parks are key sites for examining this trend because, as with "real" actors in the theater, the performance demands of park attendants and characters are "ideal types" on which other, less dramatic forms of employment are modeled. David is interested in the process by which theme park workers deliver "successful" performances and thus actively create a desired corporate aesthetic - in this case, the aesthetic of "interactive spectacle."
The dissertation explores how the production of spectacle shapes both work and worker experiences. It begins by considering the role of interactive spectacle in shaping the organization of work, from hiring and training to the division of labor and assignment of daily work tasks. Spectacle also shapes the execution of work, through the performative labor done by workers, the material goods available in the workplace, and in co-production with park-goers. In structuring what and how work should be done, interactive spectacle influences how performers "do" gender and sexuality in the park and backstage, challenging and reinforcing notions of hegemonic masculinity and emphasized femininity. Finally, the aesthetic of interactive spectacle is central to management and workers constructions of entertainment jobs as "fun" work, ultimately obscuring entertainers exploitation.