Smith; "Emotional Labor and the Pursuit of Happiness
Sunday, February 02, 2014
Reason to be cheerful
• Paradoxically, bad news is reason to be cheerful; because bad news upsets us, it means
we are happy, and we care about bad news
• Our mood depends on others
• Many frontline workers; police, waiters, dentists, have to perform emotion work
• Many of the people we run into everyday affect our emotions
• They are "emotional laborers"
Feelings have been industrialized
• We are emotional workers clients, conditions of their work affect their ability to affect us
• emotional laborers are paid to affect our feelings
• Emotional labor is done in the presence of other human beings
• Emotional laborer has to be sure client feels that they care
• Moods are infectious, one encounter influences the next
"Hell is other people"
• Can ential conditions that prejudice both parties
• Emotional laborers may adopt a mask that creates empty service encounters
• Wrong to expect individuals to become happy single handedly
• Instead of seeing clients as bad and mean, it is possible to find a common ground
between worker and client that is mutually nourishing
• 19th century idea of "greatest happiness for greatest number"
• Reform of front line work
• If conditions are poor, they affect everybody's experience immediately
• Fearful police matter to fearful residents because of risk of mutual violence
• Headlines claiming "something needs to be done now"
A common interest between client and provider
• Government interventions since about 1845 have better working and living conditions
• Can they better emotional conditions as well?
• Principles and methods for reforming emotional labor
o Utilitarianism: the greatest happiness of the greatest number
Simple corrleations; that between "wholesome water" and less infectious
disease, shorter hours, longer lives, equality and happiness
o Popular mobilization
o Common interest between carer and client
• Emotional laborers ought to treat clients well, clients also ought to treat emotional
• Both sides have a common interest in good conditions of emotional labor
• If carer sustains damage, wont be able to help client properly
• Self-help market principle, about being a better self, individual achievement, mistrusts
collective improvements • Social reformers were right in pursuing public solutions to squalor and disease, rest
breaks, staturoy train-breakig systems, municipal schools, police, firefighters
• Principles of self help often fail because interaction is not one way, but two way
• South Africans acknowledge the wider pricinple of "becoming-people-through-other-
• Levinas calls for heteronomy; put the other first
• The obligation to the other arises from face to face contact
• Potential for real, dialogue-based reforms
Patient and doctor each recognize they are mortal, fallible, and "shit happens"
o Tutor happy to repay help to student they received years ago
• Excellent funeral director, custody sergeant, nurse, propagate in eachother good
• "people can stop behaving like assholes"
• "screw you" pr