your weekend read: revisiting emotional labor

You may have heard the term “emotional labor” not just in class, but also in other settings. As various meanings seem to be currently attached to the term, it is a good idea to revisit its original definition, recently reiterated by Arlie Hochschild herself:

Emotional labor, as I introduced the term in The Managed Heart, is the work, for which you’re paid, which centrally involves trying to feel the right feeling for the job. This involves evoking and suppressing feelings. Some jobs require a lot of it, some a little of it. From the flight attendant whose job it is to be nicer than natural to the bill collector whose job it is to be, if necessary, harsher than natural, there are a variety of jobs that call for this. Teachers, nursing-home attendants, and child-care workers are examples. The point is that while you may also be doing physical labor and mental labor, you are crucially being hired and monitored for your capacity to manage and produce a feeling.

Speaking of flight attendants: did you know about the outrageous ads that sexualized and objectified stewardesses (and led to more sexual harassment, surprise), and how the women fought back?

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