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Softening Corners: How a Carefully Considered Hospitality Operation Impacted an Educational Institution

Abstract

Enter quickly, as I am afraid of my happiness! (Derrida, 2000, p.131) This research project is an attempt to bridge the gap between the philosophical ideals of hospitality and the hospitality industry, by examining how a carefully considered hospitality operation impacted an educational institution over the course of eight years. The aim of this study is to demonstrate that the application of the philosophical ideals to a commercial hospitality setting yielded profoundly positive results. The primary research was compiled by the author conducting a case study of her own food business, Luncheonette which was located in the National College of Art and Design in Dublin. A strong motivation behind this thesis is to present an alternative model for hospitality in an institutional setting which could be useful to others. The term Softening Corners, used in the title refers to the additional yielding layer of humanity which thoughtful hospitality can bring to harsh space. This research has been informed by the literature surrounding the philosophy, sociology, etymology and historic origins of hospitality. A qualitative approach was adopted to collect primary research. Nine semi-structured interviews were conducted with students, staff and visitors to the college. The interviews were juxtaposed with a collection of autoethnographic research compiled by the author, outlining the experience, knowledge and skills gained by operating a college canteen which had an unforeseen impact on the institution it served. These two sources of data are treated to a thematic analysis and arranged into seven themes, each one acting as a response to the directive: How to Soften Corners. The findings of this research study reveal that the influence and legacy that this active hospitality practice had on this educational institution was profoundly positive and far beyond any expectations of what an institutional catering operation could achieve

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This paper was published in Arrow@TUDublin.

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