Toilet breaks

Date of publication: October 8, 2006

Catalogue: Qualitative 2006

Company: Ipsos MRBI

Abstract:

Life is one big story and as market researchers we make it our stock in trade to turn certain lives, the attitudes, behaviours and preferences that cascade in these lives into stories. As well as factual and relevant, we try to make them lively, colourful, interesting and illuminating. This conference focuses on generating great stories, telling them and then living them. We also have a story to tell. But ours is not about consumers the so-often quoted subject of stories and the central character in so many cases. Our story is about employees. They are perceived by some to be the minor character in a sexy story about consumers, marketing plans, brand strategy and new product development. We argue differently. We feel they are central characters and their story is an important theme in the consumer story.But our story is not just unique because it is about employees. It is unique on other levels. It uses several theoretical frameworks in its narrative. Blending anthropology of the body, transactional analysis and subtle aspects of feminist sociology, it tells a tale of female train operators (FTOs who drive Underground trains) and their personal needs relief (PNRs). It tells of how they have to ask to use the toilet facilities. It tells of how this makes them feel guilty and embarrassed. It delves into the feelings of the storyteller when confronted with a highly sensitive and personal account of bodily functions.

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