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This essay seeks to explore this concept of emotional labour with specific reference to the studies of Arlie Hochschild and Sara Jaffe. Following discussion will also scrutinize some important ways by which emotional labour affects workers and the relevance of this concept in the present business environment.
Controlling personal issues to display the right emotions for customers forms the bedrock of emotional labour. This concept was first introduced by Hochschild in her book “The Managed Heart.” As the name of her book implies, emotional labour is about managing heart and not permitting personal emotions to burst at the seams in front of a customer. Inhibiting inner feelings and conforming to an external ideal to project a better image about organization is emotional labour. Some service industries require employees to treat customers nicely regardless of however rude or unreasonable the customer is being. In this case especially when an employee is already not feeling well but still attempting to be nice, rude customers can readily make things worse. Research suggests that being forced to manage emotions in such drastic situations can culminate in work stress. Such workers can get very detached from their real self and may also experience burnout as a result. Hochschild herself addresses this worrisome issue by claiming that “the worker can become estranged or alienated from an aspect of self” (Hochschild 7). Jaffe is her article also points out that emotional labour makes female employees disadvantaged in a workplace. Instead of benefiting them significantly, the kindness or caring provided by women in care fields is taken for weakness. This kind of trend adds to exploitation of caring female employees (Harvey cited in Jaffe). Women are universally expected to display greater level of care for others and behave more kindly. They are expected to be submissive and disregard their personal issues.
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