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From upper-class to underclass. Working the skies: representations and reality, 1930 - 2010

Baum, T.G. (2010) From upper-class to underclass. Working the skies: representations and reality, 1930 - 2010. In: CAUTHE Annual Conference, 2010-02-01, Hobart, Tas. (In Press)

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Abstract

Working in the sky, whether as a pilot or member of the cabin crew, continues to hold a fascination and attraction for potential entrants that far exceed the technical demands or financial rewards of the reality of such work. Perceived as glamorous work since the early days of commercial flight in the 1930s, this tag has largely remained, despite major changes to the business and workplace environment in the intervening years. It is also an area of work that has inspired a genre of romantic fiction and numerous 'real life' recollections alongside serious academic analysis. This paper charts the representation of, in particular, female flight attendant work from its 'golden era' through to the present, drawing on both fictional and factual accounts, in order to ask whether contemporary representation is any more a true reflection of this work than that of previous generations.