“Double Edged Sword”, Emotional Labour Essay

3262 words - 14 pages

“Double-Edged Sword”, Emotional Labour |
:The examination of the extent to which emotional labour is harmful for workers |
BMAN31430: Human Resource ManagementCourse Coordinator: Dr. Isabel Tavora799264112TH NOV 2013 |

This paper aims to explore fundamental concept of emotional labour, based on the empirical case studies in order to attempt to answer the question, “Is emotional labour really harmful for workers?”, and also investigate the contradictory claim that it is not harmful, including the practical recommendations for problematic emotional labour. |


1. Introduction………..………………………………….…..…… ...view middle of the document...

As the number of employees in the service industry is increasing, research has placed greater emphasis on considering the psychological impact on employees performing labour that involves emotional display and managing feelings. In 1983, Arlie Hochschild popularised the concept of “emotional labour”, referring to the expression component of work roles. “Emotional labour” requires “face-to-face or voice-to-voice contact with the public and the workers are required to produce an emotional state in another person and allow the employer to exercise a degree of control over the emotional activities of frontline employees” (Hochschild, 1983, p. 147).
The purpose of this paper is firstly to provide empirical research explaining the concept of “emotional labour” in order to support the claim that “emotional labour is harmful for workers,” and also to clarify the claim with objective case studies. Secondly, the paper will investigate the contradictory claim that emotional labour not harmful for employees, based on evidence from relevant literature. Subsequently, it will shed light on counteractions that organisations or managers could take against the problem of emotional labour, and finally, a brief summary of the findings and limitations of this research will be provided.

2. Emotional Labour

Most of an employee’s emotional displays are considered to be a public performance rather than a private matter under their employer’s control. This notion particularly applies to organisations in the service industry where daily routine involves consecutive interactions with other people. The process of complying with social norms by controlling one’s emotions is referred to as “emotion work” (Hochschild, 1983). Generally, people tend to manage their emotion, if their job requires them to display certain emotions and suppress others. Hochschild (1983) coined this regulation of one’s emotions to follow occupational or organisational norms as “emotional labour”.
“Emotional labour is the management of feeling to create a publicly observable facial and bodily display; emotional labour is sold for a wage and therefore has exchange value” (Hochschild, 1983, p. 7). The theory of emotional labour is associated with emotion that arises from workers, or where a worker pretends to feel a certain emotion in order to comply with their working conditions.
Hochschild (1983) argued that there are a certain set of emotions that should be displayed during a service encounter between service providers and customers. In 1973, Ekman defined such expectations as “display rules”, outlining expectations of which emotions should be expressed and which should be suppressed. The role of “display rules” is to encourage the portrayal of the desired company image to the public in order to elicit the desired responses, such as satisfaction and trust, from customers.
Researchers proposed that employees use three types of action mechanism to conduct emotional labour;...

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