What Is Emotional Labor and Why Is It Important?

Submitted by Nell Gross on

What is emotional labor? 

The traditional definition of emotional labor comes from a 1985 book by sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild, according to Yuying Xie, a PhD student in geography at the University of Washington who studies labor, feminism, race and ethnicity and has done research on emotional labor. 

“Emotional labor refers to the process by which workers manage their feelings in accordance with the expectation of jobs which usually have organizationally defined rules and guidelines,” she says.  

A classic example is someone who works in the service industry having to force a smile when a customer is being rude to them.  

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