Professional feelings as emotional labor

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45 Scopus citations


Emotional labor is what workers do with their feelings to comply with organizational role requirements. This article explores the concept in professional organizations, examining the psychotherapeutic discourse of objectivity, neutrality, and care as feeling rules. Based on a study in a residential psychiatric facility in Israel, the authors found that counselors labored to display aspired professional feelings despite the absence of memos, protocols, or training sessions. Who told them to do so? How did they know what to feel? The authors claim that therapeutic discourse constitutes professional feelings through the use of specific concepts and techniques. However, the term professional feelings disguises a complicated process of negotiation between different ideologies. The difference between two groups of counselors indicates that both scientific and intersubjective knowledge represent modes of emotional control. The authors claim, thus, that emotional labor in professional service organizations is the product of contested professional discourse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-373
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Contemporary Ethnography
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jan 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


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