Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

"Emotional Labor" Definition Correction

From the Atlantic:

[The term "emotional labor"] was first coined by the sociologist Arlie Hochschild in her 1983 book on the topic, The Managed Heart. Emotional labor, as she conceived it, referred to the work of managing one’s own emotions that was required by certain professions. Flight attendants, who are expected to smile and be friendly even in stressful situations, are the canonical example. In recent years, the term’s popularity has grown immensely—Google searches for it are up, and it’s being mentioned more and more in books and academic articles.

Many people who write about emotional labor do tip their hats to Hochschild, and acknowledge that they are expanding her original definition, but the umbrella of emotional labor has grown so large that it’s starting to cover things that make no sense at all, such as regular household chores, which are not emotional so much as they are labor, full stop. “Really, I’m horrified,” Hochschild said of the concept creep when I called her to set the record straight.

Read more here.

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