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The emotional labour process: An essay on the economy of feelings

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Steve VincentORCiD


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This article evaluates conceptual resources for exploring the economy of feelings. It reviews existing contributions, discovering tensions surrounding the material status of emotional displays and normative commitments at work, as well as significant gaps within the conceptual resources used to classify the emotions we experience and evoke while working. In an effort to develop more robust categories for this broad area, labour process theory is combined with other conceptual tools to reframe and refresh debates. Specifically, the concept emotional misbehaviour is posited as a useful addition to the debate concerning the material status of emotion at work and various novel conceptual resources are explored from a labour process perspective. In particular, emotional intelligence, techno-normative control, symbolic violence and cultural capital are introduced to the debate and considered for their potential usefulness in filling the conceptual gaps identified.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Vincent S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Human Relations

Year: 2011

Volume: 64

Issue: 10

Pages: 1369-1392

Print publication date: 21/09/2011

ISSN (print): 0018-7267

ISSN (electronic): 1741-282X

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd


DOI: 10.1177/0018726711415131


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