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Title: Love's labours redressed : reconstructing emotional labour as an interactive process within service work
Author: Tang, Audrey Poh Lin
ISNI:       0000 0004 2722 4258
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2012
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Emotional labour was conceptualised by Hochschild in 1983 as a form of oppression on the service worker devised by a capitalist society; where not only were workers’ physical actions managed, but their emotions as well. Research in the area developed this concept identifying the many occupational fields in which emotional labour exists, forming models of its effects, and examining ways in which workers try to resist the emotional strain. Taking a social constructionist approach, 44 service workers and 44 customers/emotional labour recipients were interviewed using the Critical Incident Technique to gain insight into their views of performing and receiving emotional labour, and what they believed enhanced or detracted from it. The results were divided into those discussing “professional” emotional labour jobs (eg. teaching) - where the emotional labourer needs to attain a professional status; and “occupational” (eg. sales assistants) – where the emotional labourer does not need a professional qualification. It was found that 1) there were differences between the expectations, motivations and coping mechanisms displayed by professional and occupational emotional labourers; as well as in the expectations of the customer/recipient within a professional service and an occupational one; 2) that many recipients do not necessarily want to be treated as “sovereign” (ie. “king”) and judge an emotional labour interaction more positively when their individual needs are acknowledged; 3) while display rules and targets were still a notable constraint on the labourer, nevertheless “occupational” emotional labourers (sometimes in collusion with their managers) found ways of resisting further strain from recipients through over-politeness, ironically in accordance with display rules which exposed recipient rudeness; 4) professional emotional labourers, however, found the display rules and targets a hindrance. This managerial misunderstanding or poor appreciation of “professional” emotional labour caused resentment among them; 5) unique and spontaneous kindness was evident in many emotional labour interactions with managers, colleagues and most commonly recipients. Moreover, this was acknowledged by giver and receiver as the most satisfying and memorable part of emotional labour – and something unique to emotional labour itself. The recommendations of this thesis are therefore: i) that emotional labour should be differentiated within services in order for more focussed findings and recommendations to be generated and applied ii) that emotional labour be analysed as interactive process where emotional labourer, recipient and their organisational management contribute to a high level of enjoyment within the job. That is, it is not necessary to view emotional labour as the oppressive and intrusive management of personality by a capitalist organisation iii) recognition be given to the importance of kindness within the emotional labour interaction, as it can be both a source of pleasure, and also pain, for the compassionate labourer. This has important implications for the selection, training and providing emotional support for workers.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Service delivery ; Training ; Customer service ; Service workers