About Emotional Labor

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The Concept of Emotional Labor

The phrase "emotional labor" was coined by sociologist Arlie Hochschild in 1983 to describe the effort made by employees who change their external behavior (emotions, verbal clues, body language, etc.) to fit a standard set by their employer. Most organizations have policies requiring employees and coworkers to manage their emotions at work. (2015) Korgen, Korgen & Giraffe. Some of the employees who deal with emotional labor at work are teachers and nurses. Broad acting, surface acting, and surface acting are different categories of emotional labor.

Deep Acting Among Teachers

Deep acting is a skill that teachers with more experience in a school setting possess. Besides, the teachers holding seniority positions are also able to match their emotions with the requirements of the job. Deep acting reaches its maximum level among teachers handling children between six to ten years. However, those dealing with learners below the age of six have to fake their emotions.

Emotional Labor in the Nursing Profession

Nurses too face a hard time in managing their emotions in cases where the patient is in pain. Although they also get emotional, they are not required to show their feelings to the patients. Moreover, they at times face physical assaults from patients, yet their work ethics need them to politely respond to the cases of surface acting in the nursing profession, therefore, is usually at its maximum level.

Emotional Labor in Human Resource Management

According to Pierce (2010) the people working at the human resource desk frequently receive multiple questions and complaints, and yet they are expected to remain calm and respond nicely to the customers. Research has shown that when an individual can emotionally act, they are not as tired as those who have to fake their feelings to please the customers they are attending.

Support for Employees in Dealing with Emotional Labor

Maxon (n.d.) suggested that employers can create counseling sessions at the workplace for the employees to attend in case their job becomes stressful. Also, Maxon (n.d) advised them to make a flexible work schedule in the organization as well as create telecommuting opportunities.


Hochshild, A. R. (1983). The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling. Berkley, CA: University of California Press.

Korgen, K. O., Korgen, J. O., & Giraffe, V. (2015). Social issues in the workplace (2nd ed.)  [Electronic version]. Retrieved from https://content.ashford.edu

Maxon, R. (n.d.). Stress in the workplace: a costly epidemic. FDU magazine. Retrieved from http://fdu.edu/newspubs/magazine/99su/stress.html

Pierce, J. (2010, May 13). Emotional labor study at the University of Memphis [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/jOj-0fm79AA

March 15, 2023

Life Sociology Business

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Labor Body Language Employee

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