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Emotional labour put forward by sociologist arlie hochschild

Emotional labour was first put forward by sociologist Arlie Hochschild in 1983 in her classic book, The Managed Heart. Hochschild’s (1983) thesis mostly focuses on the job of flight attendants and bill collectors where she described the work involved in being “nasty” or “nice” and have also been expressed as “toe and heel” of the growing service sector (Cited in Steinberg & Figart, 1999: 9) , also implying call centre, which has been targeted for analysis purpose in this study. Repercussions of rapid growing call centres globally have highlighted the importance of the service industry in recent years, whereby organisations accentuate on service quality where the impact is mostly upon selling a service with a smile. This new work organisation focuses on creating a pleasant service interaction for the clients or customers through good and pleasant customer service representative (CSR). As such, service employees are expected to regulate the emotional expression and display certain pre-established and contextually appropriate emotions as per the organisations norms and culture while interacting with customers due to the nature and characteristics of the job as well as the work environment [1] .

According to Steinberg & Figart (1999), emotional labour emphasis is laid on the ‘relational’ rather than task-based aspect of work, principally found in service economies.

“It is labour-intensive, it is skilled, effort-intensive, and productive labour. It creates value, affects productivity, and generates profit”

Steinberg & Figart (1999)

For such type of emotional labour, wage is their reward; that is, they get paid for their emotional work demands specifically for performing Emotional Labour (Grandey & Brauburger, 2002; Zapf, 2002). Most of interactions nowadays include emotional labour (Gibson, 1997; Pugliesi & Shook, 1997). For long emotions have been of interest to psychologists and sociologists (Hochschild, 1983; Thoits, 1990), but recently they have been of particular interest to organisational researchers (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993, 1995; Fineman, 1993; Morris & Feldman, 1996, 1997).

Arlie Hochschild (1983:7) defined “emotional labour as the management of feeling to create a publicly observable facial and bodily display” (Cited in Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993). She also points to the need for an employee to “induce or suppress feeling in order to sustain the outward countenance that produces the proper state of mind in others” (1983 Cited in Murphy & McClure, 2007:7). Emotional labour is demarcated as having different characteristics that may be analysed along different dimensions. Firstly, it requires a personal contact external or within organisations entailing either face-to-face or voice-to-voice client contact (Zapf, 2002; Steinberg & Figart, 1999). Emotional labour also requires “a worker to produce an emotional state in another person while at the same time managing one’s own emotions” (Steinberg & Figart, 1999:13 [2] ). Initially, Hochschild (1983) pointed to “facial and bodily displays” that were observable but further, researchers broaden the view including words, voice tone and other behaviours shaped by efforts undertaken by the person (Wharton & Erickson, 1993). Emotional expression is required to follow certain rules, that is, display rules of the organisation (Grandey & Brauburger, 2002; Humphrey, 2000; Zapf, 2002). This directs to the alignment of emotional labour with call centre environment due to their respective characteristics such as voice-to-voice or face-to-face, emotions expressed and following display rules during interactions for customer satisfaction.

Ashforth & Humphrey’s (1993, 1995) contribution to emotional labour have pushed forward Hochschild’s thesis by incorporating the concept of social identity into their study of emotions in the workplace. They define emotional labour as “the act of displaying the appropriate emotion” (1993:90). Their definition differs from Hochschild’s definition as they “focus on behaviour rather than on the presumed emotions underlying behaviour” (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993:90) because they see it as a possibility to “conform to display rules without the employee having to ‘manage’ feelings” (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993:90). Their focus is on what the employee should feel at work instead of focusing on feeling rules (Hochschild, 1983), which leads us to display rules which are generally a function of societal norms, occupational norms, and organisational norms [3] (Rafaeli & Sutton, 1989) (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Rafaeli & Sutton’s Factors that influence Emotions Expressed by Role Occupants.

Source: Rafaeli, A., & Sutton, R. I., The expression of emotion in organisational life, Research in Organisational Behaviour, Vol. 11, p.5. Copyright (1989)

Surface Acting and Deep Acting:

Hochschild (1979, 1983) argued that emotional labour is performed in one of two ways. First, the service provider may act in accordance with display rules through Surface Acting, which involves

“Simulating emotions that are not actually felt, which is accomplished by careful presentation of verbal and non verbal cues, such as facial expression, gestures and voice tone.”

Ashforth & Humphrey (1993:92)

Hereby, the service agents simulate emotions that are not felt by the latter. However, surface acting does not mean that the agent do not experiences any emotion but instead a display emotion that is not felt (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993). This causes a discrepancy between felt and displayed emotion as we will discuss in this study. There are also cases where the agent is or is not particularly concerned about the welfare of the customer which is referred to as “faking in good faith” and “faking in bad faith” by Rafaeli & Sutton (1987: 32 Cited in Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993). Surface acting can also be part of “acting typically discussed as Impression Management” (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993) and this converges with Goffman’s dramaturgical analysis of daily encounters (Goffman, 1959, 1969).

The second means of complying with display rules is through Deep Acting, which involves a service agent attempting to “actually experience or feel the emotions that one wishes to display” (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993:93). Deep acting can also be described as “actors “psyche themselves” for a role in the same way, the service provider psyches himself or herself for a desired emotion” (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993:93).

Surface acting focuses on one’s outward behaviour, deep acting focuses on one’s inner feelings (Hochschild, 1983). The concept of surface and deep acting refer to

“The effort or act of trying to display the appropriate emotion, not the outcomes - that is, the quality of the effort and the effects this effort has on target audience”

Hochschild (1979) [4] 

Further, the efforts may become effortless, for instance, in call centre works, the pre-described scripts and repetitive nature of the work makes deep and surface acting such that “emotional labour becomes relatively effortless” (Ashforth & Fried, 1988 Cited in Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993).

In the same vein, Ashforth and Humphrey (1993) include the “spontaneous and genuine” emotions in his conceptualisation of emotional labour, which explains the instances where a service agent “spontaneously and genuinely experiences and expresses the expected emotion” Ashforth and Humphrey (1993:94). The service provider may naturally feel what he or she was expected to express without having to fake the emotion as per Hochschild (1983) thesis. Ashforth and Humphrey’s perception was no compliance but instead, a natural expression of feelings, for instance, “a nurse who feels sympathy at the sight of an injured child has no need to ‘act’” (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993:94).

Grandey (2000) provides another conceptualisation of emotional labour [5] in an attempt to refine the construct of emotional labour and the display rules involved. She defines emotional labour as: “the process of regulating both feelings and expression for organisational goals” (2000: 97). Grandey (2000) argued that previous conceptualisation of emotional labour does not include the emotion management process that employees undertake to conform to organisational display rules. She also developed a model to illustrate her conceptualisation of emotional labour which is based on the emotion regulation lab studies and emotional labour field studies. The situational cues of her model illustrated below (Figure 2) include the interactions expectations based on frequency, duration, variety, and display rules based upon Morris & Feldman Dimensions of Emotional Labour (1997).

Figure 2: Grandey’s Emotion Regulation Process

Source: Grandey, A.A., Emotion Regulation in the Workplace: A new Way to conceptualise Emotional Labour, Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Vol. 5, No. 1, p.95-110.

Dimensions of Emotional Labour:

Morris & Feldman (1996) also contributed to the conceptualisation of emotional labour. They define emotional labour as “the effort, planning, and control needed to express organisationally desired emotion during interpersonal transactions” (Morris & Feldman, 1996: 987). Their perception of emotional labour differs from Hochschild’s thesis in the sense that instead of focusing of the management of feeling (Hochschild, 1983), they instead, “focus on expressive behaviour, because it is appropriate expressive behaviour that is organisationally desired” (Morris & Feldman, 1996:988). “The level of planning, control, and skill” that are required in organisations to display appropriate emotions is what has much significance to them (Morris & Feldman, 1996 Cited in Lewig & Dollard, 2003). So, Morris & Feldman (1996) conceptualise the construct of emotion labour along four dimensions [6] (Figure 3) namely, the frequency of appropriate emotional display, the attentiveness to required display rules, variety of emotions to be displayed, and emotional dissonance.

Figure 3: Morris & Feldman Four Dimensions of Emotional labour

Source: Morris, J.A., & Feldman D.C., The Dimensions, Antecedents, and Consequences of Emotional Labour, The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 21, No. 4, p.986-1010.

Consequences of Emotional Labour:

Though emotional labour can create economic benefits for the organisations and the individual such as self-efficacy and task effectiveness, it can also and most probably, has negative consequences on both physical and mental health on the employees.

Positive Consequences:

Staw et al. (1994) emphasized that employees with positive emotions will be more successful in organisations than employees with negative emotions.

Ashforth and Humphrey (1993) proposed that expression of positive emotions is related to increased task effectiveness. They discussed that compliance with display rules facilitates task effectiveness if the emotions displayed by service provider is the emotion is alleged to be sincere to a certain extent (Rafaeli & Sutton, 1989; Feldman, 1984; Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993). Ashforth & Humphrey (1993) propose that emotional labour can increase self efficacy of the employees and also increase personal well-being by fulfilling task requirements and task effectiveness [7] . In the same vein, they noted that “by fulfilling social expectations, emotional labour makes interactions more predictable and avoids embarrassing interpersonal problems that might otherwise disrupt interactions” (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993:94). Rafaeli & Sutton (1987) also found that positive emotions of service employee brings about immediate sale, or cause revisit of customers and can be beneficial to the organisation through word of mouth.

Ashforth & Humphrey (1993) also argued that emotional labour may facilitate self-expression. This is due to the certain degree of autonomy in the enactment of display rules. They disputed that at least some of the ‘authentic self’ were projected by the service agents into the enactment, for example, Jackall (1978) described how bank tellers modified organisationally directed display rules to suit their own interpersonal styles (Cited in Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993). Thus, this may facilitate self-expression. The expressions of positive emotions by service employees also influence outcomes that are prominent to the role occupant like financial wellbeing, mental and physical well being (Rafaeli & Sutton, 1987). Staw et al. (1994) also found that employees expressing positive emotions are often more appreciated and receive favourable evaluations and better pay than those with negative expressions. Cote and Morgan (2002) also supported that positive emotions can increase job satisfaction as service employees displaying such emotions are judged by others as sociable, pleasant, and likeable (Staw et al, 1994). And this supports organisations as service employees are in better positions to gain control over demanding customers (Mishra, 2006).

Negative Consequences:

Emotional labour is a double-edge sword (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993). Most studies undertaken reflected the negative aspects of emotional labour which is more inflicting on individual mental and physical well-being, and eventually affects organisational needs.

Emotional Dissonance, Burnout, and Emotional exhaustion:

Emotional labour can become “dysfunctional for the worker when dissonance between felt emotions and displayed emotions is experienced” (Lewig & Dollard, 2003:268). This discrepancy between felt and display emotion is termed as emotional dissonance (Lewig & Dollard, 2003). Hochschild’s (1983) interest in emotional labour derived from what she argues as “pernicious effects of both surface acting and deep acting on the labourer” (Cited in Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993:96). Displaying emotions that are not felt, creates a sense of strain, resulting in what Hochschild (1983) termed as emotive dissonance or cognitive dissonance. Hochschild (1983:90) defined emotional dissonance as “maintaining a difference between feeling and feigning.” This discrepancy is common because even though display rules regulate “expressive behaviour, they cannot regulate expressive experience” (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993:97). According to Ashforth & Humphrey (1993:96), emotional dissonance may cause the individual to feel ‘false and hypocritical’ [8] . In due course, this dissonance could lead to “personal and work-related maladjustment such as low self-esteem, depression, cynicism, and alienation from work” (Lewig & Dollard, 2003) [9] . Correspondingly, Ashforth & Humphrey argued that deep acting may “impair one’s sense of authentic self” (1993, p.97) and one’s well-being, leading to self-alienation. They disputed that as a person loses touch of its authentic self, this may damage one’s ability to express genuine expression (Ashforth, 1989). Finally, according to Ashforth and Fried’s Study (1988) of mindlessness, with each interaction, deep acting becomes difficult for the service provider [10] .

Many studies have been undertaken upon the link between emotional dissonance, emotional exhaustion, and burnout and results have been very prominent (Pierce, 1996; Pugliesi, 1999; Pugliesi & Shook, 1997). Morris and Feldman’s study also made an impact on this relationship (Figure 4), explaining the antecedents and consequences of emotional labour. Figure 4 shows the link that Morris and Feldman (1996) illustrated, taking emotional dissonance as the fourth dimension of the emotional labour construct which leads to emotional exhaustion and job dissatisfaction.

Figure 4: Morris & Feldman Antecedents and Consequences of Emotional labour

Source: Morris, J.A., & Feldman D.C., The Dimensions, Antecedents, and Consequences of Emotional Labour, The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 21, No. 4, p.986-1010.

Emotional exhaustion is a “specific stress-related reaction,” and is a key component of burnout (Maslach, 1982 Cited in Morris & Feldman, 1996). Emotional exhaustion refers to a state of “depleted energy caused by excessive emotional demands” (Saxton, Phillips, & Blakeney, 1991, Cited in Morris & Feldman, 1996, p.1002) made on service providers interacting with customers or clients. It has also been associated with withdrawal behaviour and decreases in productivity (Cordes & Dougherty, 1993; Jackson, Schwab & Schuler, 1986). Lewig and Dollard (2003) found that emotional dissonance intensifies the level of emotional exhaustion at high levels of psychological demands, indicating that jobs having more emotional demands result in more emotional dissonance, hence more emotional exhaustion [11] . Maslach’s (1982) work also suggests that greater planning for a wide variety of emotional displays is emotionally exhausting.

Emotional exhaustion is a component of burnout, which is a stress found typically in service industries (Brotheridge & Grandey, 2002; Grandey, 2000; Maslach, 1982). Hochschild (1983) indicated that burnout was a likely outcome for emotional labourers who identified too completely with their jobs (also see Maslach, 1982; Maslach & Jackson, 1981). Initially, there is no standard definition of burnout, but most researchers conceptualisation of burnout refers to burnout as a syndrome consisting of emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and reduced personal accomplishment that results from interactions with people in some capacity (Maslach & Schaufeli, 1993). The research supports that emotional labour is related to burnout and to emotional exhaustion specifically (Abraham, 1998, 1999c; Brotheridge & Lee, 2002; Zapf et al., 2001). Similarly, Kruml & Geddes (2000) examined the relationship between emotional dissonance and burnout and results proved that those faking their emotions risk becoming emotionally exhausted.

Job Satisfaction, Autonomy, and Performance:

Previous theoretical work on emotional labour suggests that a negative relationship between emotional labour and job satisfaction. Hochschild (1983) argued that those employees suffering from burnout is usually a result of low autonomy and high job involvement, ultimately leading to low job satisfaction. According to Parkinson (1991), employees masking their felt emotions, lead to job dissatisfaction. This result from the consequences of emotional dissonance caused from the discrepancy between felt and displayed emotions which lead to exhaustion and burnout, eventually, affects job performance and job satisfaction [12] .

Gendered Aspect of Emotional Labour:

Work organisations and jobs are gendered (Acker, 1990) and this involves jobs requiring interactive work and emotional labour (Cited in Erickson & Ritter, 2001). Traditionally, a differential form of emotional labour has been associated with jobs performed mostly by women. Nevertheless,

“Women do not experience more burnout or inauthenticity than men “because of the type of jobs they perform, but rather because managing feelings of agitation have a different effect on women than it does on men.”

Erickson & Ritter (2001:147)

Thus, conventionally, Hochschild (1983) chose to study Flight Attendants and Bill Collectors as she believed these were jobs requiring high levels of emotional labour, or she wanted to illustrate the extent to which such jobs were emotionally gendered (Cited in Erickson & Ritter, 2001) . As per Acker (1990), emotionally gendered jobs should display emotional patterns of emotional experience that should be distinctive for man and woman [13] . The gendered dimension of emotional labour can be illustrated through Rafaeli & Sutton (1989) three norms, namely, the social norms, the occupational norms, and the organisational norms

Social Norm:

Historically, emotional expression has been differential in society and organisations, in that women have the tendency to perform more deferential forms of emotional labour than men (Erickson & Ritter, 2001). Women are generally thought to be more expressive than men (Brody & Hall, 1993). This issue was traditionally due to the social status of man and woman. Women are socialised to express most feelings freely except anger and man are expected to suppress all feelings but to express anger openly (Sharkin, 1993). In organisations, men’s anger is often acceptable and it is generally characterised by shouting and yelling, whereas women express their anger differently and usually characterised by tears (Hoover Dempsey, Plas & Wallston, 1986). Hochschild (1983: 163) suggested that woman have “a weaker ‘status shield’ against the displaced feeling of others” (Cited in Erickson & Ritter, 2001). According to Hochschild (1983), the absence of the social shield implies that women are more like to be exposed to others anger and frustration and will lack the structural resources to fight back those emotional attacks [14] (cited in Erickson & Ritter, 2001).

Occupational Norms:

Occupational norms regarding the appropriateness of emotional displays at work are typically learned during the professional socialisation process.

“The extents to which organisations have explicit display rules and monitor employees’ expressive behaviour will depend on the level of skill and training required to perform the work.”

Morris and Feldman (1996: 997)

Elaine Hall (1993) and Robin Leidner (1991, 1993) studies also focused on the gendered dimension of emotional labour which reflected on the service of a restaurant [15] . They argued that this organisational behaviour structured the interaction of women servers as sexual objects (Cited in Steinberg & Figart, 1999:16). Jennifer Pierce (1995) also echoed the gendered occupational dimension of emotional labour with her study of paralegals, where woman paralegals entailed in tremendous emotional labour job content [16] . Similarly, O’Brien study (1994) of the nursing profession in Great Britain focused on this aspect of emotional labour where many of the skills possessed by nurses derived “not from the qualities of being a nurse but from the qualities of being a woman [17] ” (1994:399).

The case of call centres that have become a new organisational phenomenon nowadays is greatly emotionally gendered. “The call centre industry quickly arrived at the realisation that women sell” (Carter & Butler, 2008:6). Foreseth’s (2005) study demonstrates how feelings are commoditized and woman’s femininity and sexuality are sold alongside the company’s product such as airline tickets, hotel reservations amongst others (Cited in Carter & Butler, 2008:6). Most often, women are expected to make use of their inherent caring and nurturing nature to persuade customers to purchase the products or service or assist customers in their inquiries and complaints (Brannan, 2005; Fernandez et. al., 2005: 894-895).

These situations provide examples of how the issue of gender makes a difference in occupations and how with the use of display rules, the gendered dimension of emotional labour is strengthen (Fineman, 1996). National culture also play an important part on the gendered emotional labour depending on which type of policies organisations employ and where national culture shape organisational culture, hence influencing the emotional labour (Aaltio-Marjosola, 1994; Gheradi, 1994).

Organisational Norms:

An organisation’s culture will have the most persistent influence on display rules and associated emotions (Rafaeli & Sutton, 1989; Van Maanen & Kunda, 1989). Gender is implicated within these social norms, which vary by culture [18] (Steinberg & Figart, 1999). Organisational culture consists

“Of symbols, beliefs, and patterns of behaviour learned, produced, and created by the people who devote their energies and labour to the life of an organisation”

Sprati (1992:342)

Consequently, this pattern of behaviour, which of itself is gendered, is reflected in their tacit rejection of emotional feelings at work (Sprati, 1992). Aaltio-Marjosola (1994) noted that gender stereotypes are becoming cultural product of the organisation. Hence, where service providers are interacting in this context, they believe that they are acting in their own, but in fact they are acting as per organisational norms and emotional displays become part of compliance and not emotional attachment, and no commitment.

In the context of emotional exchanges, emotional dissonance and its relationship to emotional exhaustion and burnout are important. Research indicates that not only women are required to engage in emotional labour more than man (Morris & Feldman, 1997; Rafaeli & Sutton, 1989; Wharton & Erickson, 1993), but at the same time, it is clear that woman express more positive emotions toward other than man (Stoppard & Gunn Gruchy, 1993). Man, on the other hand, is restricted to those emotions that are considered ‘manly’ to the society. As discussed above through Rafaeli and Sutton three norms that demonstrate the gendered dimension of emotional labour, man and woman are expected different forms of emotional labours, so this lead to more emotional dissonance, more emotional exhaustion, and more burnout. The gendered aspects of emotional labour can also affect job satisfaction and is illustrated through Stenross and Kleinman’s study of sheriff (1989) (Steinberg & Figart, 1999).

The Self and Emotional Labour:

What is of utmost importance is how the self of the individual is mostly affected as a result of emotional labour. The relevant questions shifts from Hochschild’s [19] 

“How is the self eroded or alienated by commodification?” to “What kinds of selves are constructed through labour processes?” “What are the social possibilities for the construction of selves and relationship within a given organisation?” and “How do Workers creatively negotiate, build upon, and negate these parameters?”

Ashforth and Humphrey’s social identity theory (1993) described the social possibilities that may construct the self of an emotional labourer and its relationship to organisations levels. They argued that

“The self concept is comprised of a personal identity that encompasses distinctive characteristics and traits and a social identity encompassing salient group classifications [20] .”

Ashforth & Humphrey (1993:98); Ashforth & Mael (1989); Tajfel & Turner (1985)

Ashforth & Humphrey (1993) also noted that

“individuals who define themselves in terms of social groups and idiosyncratic characteristics whose display rules are discrepant with those of the organisational role are more apt to experience emotive dissonance and self-alienation” (p.99).

The self is constructed and modified upon the social group the individual identifies himself or herself with. “The more strongly one identifies with the role, the greater the positive impact that fulfilling those expectations has on one’s psychological well-being [21] ” (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993:99). Emotions are the construction of Identity but with deep and surface acting in emotional labour, this creates internal pressures on the individuals and eventually causes a dissonance (Richman, 1988; Sutton, 1991). “Workers who construct “emotional labour as performing a role do not have a sense of authenticity” (Haman, 2005:89).

The work of Michel Foucault is inevitable when talking about the self in emotional labour. His work mainly evolves the influences of power and control on the inner sphere of an individual. Foucault described the discourse of organisational and human needs and the case of emotional labour in service sectors has largely been a debatable subject. In performing service work, employees are not only consenting to degrading the self, they work on their own identities in ways that sometimes confirm with organisational norms, but very often do not.

“Whenever one is dealing with a multiplicity of individuals on whom a task or a particular form of behaviour must be imposed, the panoptic schema may be used”

Foucault (1977: 205)

So, emotional labour is very well concerned with the foucauldian analysis, where display rules are imposed on the individual, the panoptic schema may be used. In late eighteenth century, Jeremy Bentham design a prison [22] , which was later adapted by Foucault, and the main idea behind the construct of the prison was to make the individual feel that they were constantly under carceral gaze and they would eventually ‘internalise’ and disciplined and controlled themselves accordingly (Foucault, 1977: 201).

“He who is subjected to a field of visibility, and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power; he makes them play spontaneously upon himself; he inscribes in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles; he becomes principle of his own subjection”

Foucault (Discipline, 202-203)

In early 1990’s, the panopticon was perceived to be electronic in the workplace with new technologies advancements that increase ways of surveillance and monitoring through internet, telephones, ATMs. Credit cards, and the increasing number of surveillance cameras in urban spaces (Foucault, 1977). In fact, call centres are the best illustrations, where high emotional discrepancies are occurred as explained above in this study, has been perceived as heavy Foucauldian spin (Thompson, 2003) and the main concern here is on surveillance and heavy monitoring undertaken in such environment. Call centres were considered as having the managerial powers of electronic surveillance that were akin to those systems of dominance which existed in Jeremy Bentham’s prison panopticon [23] see appendix A: 12[ii]).

The bitter truth of call centres is that capitalists enter your private sphere, commercialize your feelings through display rules, and monitor your emotions through surveillance. The more knowledge capitalists have on workers, the more visible workers become, and the more powerful capitalists become. The emotions that should normally be yours are shaped and controlled by capitalists, they enter your subjectivity and as Jean Rousseau says capitalists are “violating the psychological contracts” (1989, p.123) and “Your Self is no longer yourself” (Dirpal, 2007, Lecture Notes).

In Foucault’s book Discipline and Punish, he explores how the creation of modern principles, “with their principle of order and control, tends to “disindividualise” power, making it seem as if power inheres in the prison the school, the factory and so on” (Foucault, 1977) . He says that the panopticon is an important mechanism that ‘automatizes and disindividualises power’ (Foucault, Discipline, 202). In fact, Bentham’s idea of control from the panopticon was that it does not matter who operated the machine [24] (see appendix A: 13). The tendency to disindividualise power resides in the machine itself rather than the operator. This tally with the work of call centres where employees are usually low skilled which can be compared to the servants mentioned by Foucault. The works of call centre agents are so deskilled, making workers de-valued and losing dignity at work (Hochschild, 1983:119) and thus so unimportant that they cannot negotiate, leading to alienation, they become emotionally alienated as per Marxist perspectives.

“The object produced by labour, its product, now stands opposed to it as an alien being, as a power independent of the producer...the more the worker expends himself in work, the more powerful becomes the world of objects which he creates in face of himself, the poorer be becomes in his inner life, and the less he belongs to himself.”

Marx (1964:122)

Hochschild’s thesis of emotional labour [25] focus was also on the “condemnation of the alienation workers suffer through the commodification of their emotions” (Paul, 2009). Customer services have the potential to be “subjectively satisfying as well as distressing for the worker” (Wouters, 1989; Tolich, 1993; korczynski, 2002 Cited in Paul, 2009). Hochschild (1983) emphasizes on the argument that

“the human cost of performing emotional labour is as harmful as the physical and mental labour as discussed by Marx because of the similarity that the worker can become estranged or alienated from an aspect of self” (p.7).

She also argued that alienation can be because of the commercialisation of workers emotions through an alteration of the ‘private sphere’ feelings into a “package of emotions that is consumed by the customer as a commodified service interaction” (Paul, 2009).

Another case of alienation in emotional labour is through the imposition of display rules, where the content and appropriateness of emotional displays are controlled, the workers are “estranged from their emotional product and the process of emotion production” (Paul, 2009). Through deep and surface acting, there is here also a cost to the human, these are conditions requiring suppression of the real self “thereby deepening the individual’s subordination to her commodification” (Paul, 2009). “The worker wonders whether her smile and the emotional labour that keeps it sincere is really hers.” (Hochschild, 1983: 133 Cited in Paul, 2009).

Marx (1975:326) refers to the ruination of the body and mind and expressed that “the worker only feels himself when he is not working” and the task to understanding mind and body is predominant in Hochschild’s (1983) work and she argues that emotional labour is alienating in the same way as the production of physical commodities.

“The worker is alienated from the product of her labour by the simple fact that it is not she who owns or controls its disposal, but rather the capitalists”

Paul (2009)

This leads to the objectification of the labour where the labour feels external to her. The worker in this case empties all his or her energy in the production of a commodity for which she is remunerated, termed as a ‘one-sided enrichment of the object’ (Ollman, 1976:144). Hochschild agreed with the idea of one-sided enrichment which states that “product is a smile, a mood, a feeling, or a relationship; it comes to belongs more to the organisation and less to the self” (p.198). Marx hereby argues that “the worker’s personal life which is independent of him but does not belong to him” (1975: 327). As said earlier, emotional labour is mostly influential by gendered characteristics, so woman are the most affected emotionally as they are the most expressive and the labour process annihilate their soul and this could eventually lead to work-family conflict and this confirms the idea of increasing mono-family nowadays.

Hence, we can say that workers are systematically alienated from their service product and the labour processes that determine the form and timing of the capitalists.


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