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Women at Work: Tupperware, Passion Parties, and Beyond

L. Susan Williams and Michelle Bemiller
Women at Work: Tupperware, Passion Parties, and Beyond
ISBN: 978-1-58826-720-7
ISBN: 978-1-58826-955-3
2010/271 pages/LC: 2010017261
"A remarkable effort to comprehensively and creatively address a subject matter that ... has largely been overlooked by scholars and the public alike.... The authors have produced a book that is engaging and will be of interest to sociologists of both gender and the economy."—Sarah Thébaud, Social Forces

"Skillfully moves across the domains of both anthropology and sociology to present a rich representation of this type of home-working undertaken because it fits in with the primary responsibilities of mothering and wifehood."—Jacqueline H. Watts, Work, Employment and Society

"A provocative examination of gender inequality.…  From 'parties' in the US heartland that peddle cookware, fake designer purses, and sex toys to other examples from around the world, the authors explore the connections between women’s lives as shaped by race, class, gender, sexuality, and global location."—Kathryn Feltey, University of Akron


Do Tupperware parties and Mary Kay sales empower individual women, or do they exploit personal relationships for corporate gain? Looking through the overlapping lenses of gender, work, and culture, Susan Williams and Michelle Bemiller critically explore the world of party plan sales.
The authors investigate this $30 billion a year enterprise through a wide range of case studies that unpack its personal and professional results for women. Closely examining the promises of multilevel marketing programs, their book challenges the way we see women's participation in the party plan economy.


L. Susan Williams is associate professor of sociology at Kansas State University. Michelle Bemiller is assistant professor of sociology at Walsh University.


  • The Gendering of Parties and Markets.
  • Staging the Study of Parties and Markets.
  • How the Party Plan Economy Mutes Women’s Work.
  • How Marketplaces of Interaction Modify the Party Plan Economy.
  • When Consumption, Markets, and Movements Meet.
  • When the Party Reaches Beyond Products.
  • Taking Back, Talking Back.