Skip to main content
Article
Economic Motivations and Moral Controls Regulating Discrimination Against Black and Hispanic Diners
The Sociological Quarterly (2015)
  • Michael Lynn
  • Zachary W. Brewster, Wayne State University
  • Jonathan R. Brauer, University of Nebraska, Omaha
Abstract
Racial discrimination in restaurant service is often depicted as an economically rational response to servers’ concerns about perceived inadequate tipping by Black and/or Hispanic customers. However, drawing from sociological and criminological theories that critique the limits of economic models of human behavior, we argue that discrimination against Black and Hispanic diners may be inhibited by servers' moral concerns about discrimination. Further, such moral restraints might also buffer the influence of economic motives regulating discrimination. Ordinal logistic regression models of survey data collected from a sample of U.S. restaurant servers (n=872) are employed to assess whether race-based perceptions of customers’ tipping behaviors and moral restraints interact to predict the prevalence and frequency of servers’ self-reported discrimination against Black and Hispanic diners. Results suggest that servers' economically-motivated, race-based beliefs about the tipping practices of Black, Hispanic, and White customers are associated with self-reported discrimination. Specifically, we find that servers who harbor negative attitudes towards the tipping practices of customers of color (i.e., Blacks or Hispanics) or positive attitudes towards Whites’ tipping behaviors are also more likely to report withholding effort from their Black and Hispanic patrons. However, servers with strong moral restraints are more likely to refrain from discriminating against Black and Hispanic diners, or do so less frequently, despite expressing concerns about inadequate tipping practices among Black and Hispanic vis-à-vis White clientele.
Keywords
  • tipping,
  • social norms,
  • racial discrimination,
  • racial profiling
Publication Date
Summer 2015
Publisher Statement
Required Publisher Statement
© Wiley. Final version published as: Brewster, Z., Brauer, J. R., & Lynn, W. M. (2015). Economic motivations and moral controls regulating discrimination against Black and Hispanic diners.The Sociological Quarterly, 56(3), 506-538. doi: 10.1111/tsq.12093
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
Citation Information
Brewster, Z., Brauer, J. R., & Lynn, W. M. (2015). Economic motivations and moral controls regulating discrimination against Black and Hispanic diners [Electronic version]. Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, School of Hotel Administration site: http://scholarship.sha.cornell.edu/articles/x