SOC327 2017 Tut6 – Wed 1730

We all know what its like to feel the wrong thing at the wrong time. Boredom when you’re meant to be interested (or at least look interested) in that lecture, anxiety when you’re meant to be happy with friends, tiredness when you’re playing with children, and frustration and stress at work. We all know what it means to feel the wrong thing, and then have to pretend – or display – a different feeling, or even somehow make ourselves feel something altogether different. We call this ‘emotion management.’

But how do we manage our emotions? When should we manage them? Should we always try to think happy thoughts – is sadness just bad and troublesome? Or are there social rules about how and when we should do this? Arlie Hochschild suggests that society has ‘feeling rules’ about how we are allowed to feel in given situations – particularly at work – and that these rules impact differently on men and women, with women still doing the bulk of the ‘emotional labour’ involved in care jobs in most countries.

Do you manage your emotions most of the time at work? Or in other areas of life? Does your gender affect this?

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16 Comments

  1. We are always managing our feelings. We do this in order to not offend people or be regarded as suitable. If we don’t manage feelings, we would just go off impulse. Which could end ugly. I could start throwing myself on the floor, screaming out in a tantrum with my hands and feet flying. Or, I could simply suppress these emotions with ‘surface acting’ and keep a calm collected manner. Therefore not embarrassing myself. We use ’emotion labor’ at work in order to manage our feelings. We are paid to behave and act a certain way that the company would like you to represent. Working in a customer service environment, I am always doing this. Where I would have to show understanding to a customer if they weren’t happy with service, even though I disagree with their statements. When it comes to other area’s in my life, like the personal ones, I do what is called ‘Emotional work.’ which involves me trying to alter my emotions perceived in order to form and maintain healthy relationships. I feel my gender does affect this. Being a female I am more socially expected to be compassionate and submissive. I feel gender is also relevant when looking at customer service jobs. Which females mostly work in.

  2. I agree with Erving Goffman when he suggests that as individuals we must dress and perform a certain way to ensure that we are convincing another person by managing our emotions in a certain situation. (Patulny 2017) A ‘feeling rule’ is where we can only express what is expected within society, but like any rules it can be broken (Hochschild 1979, p. 566) For example, at work I manage my emotions and conform to the ‘feeling rules’, especially in a customer service occupation when I’m expected be happy, when I may be actually feeling bored. In some situations, I may break the ‘feeling rules’ by expressing my feeling of boredom.

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  3. We manage our emotions in all facits of life, because reacting instinctively usually doesn’t end exactly well. So we react how we have been socially trained since we were born. We are born and trained with rules and social situations in which we all follow and only few in our lives see the real reactions. Usually family and close friends.

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  4. It is socially appropriate to display some emotions and hide others. This is especially specific to the environment you are in. At work you have to appear especially approachable – especially in a customer service position- as you are being paid for the role. At home/in close social circles it is far more acceptable to display other emotions and express your feelings. I agree with the ideas but forwards by Hochschild in regards to the interactive account of emotions, that social influences adapt emotions.
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  5. I believe there are defiantly a time and a place for different emotions to be shown, but just because someone feels sad when they are in a happy environment does not mean they should feel ashamed to show it.
    Being female makes me feel responsible to remember things and make decisions especially in the work place. When male customers make comments that make myself and other females uncomfortable most of the time we have to laugh it off or ignore them, instead of showing they are unwanted and make us feel upset. My male co-workers don’t get shouted at as often or have remarks about their looks made towards them. So managing emotions is defiantly a pressure I feel as a female.

  6. Whether or not I manage my emotions is largely dependent on the setting at the given time. Crying at home in my own comfort does not require management. On the contrary, expressing anger with a customer at work would entail management, largely due to it being perceived as socially inappropriate to yell or speak aggressively to a customer. Our interpretation of when we ‘should’ manage our emotions can be supported by Giddens’ ideology of the ‘feeling rule’ where he explains how the expression of emotion can vary based on present social expectations and norms.

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  7. Honestly, I do not believe that gender affects it over proportional. To me Gottmann’s idea of the “outward appearance” and “inward feeling”, which leads to “surface acting” and “deep acting” (Hochschild, p. 556f) explains a lot in our social environment. There are certain stereotypes of outward appearances we expect to experience in certain situations from males and females. In my mind there are two things that might be happening: It is either men’s expected displayed appearance is matching the inward feelings very well – so they don’t have to work as much to show something different than they have inside of them. Or maybe they just do as much emotional work to illustrate the stereotype anticipated by society – and they do not perceive it as emotion work or maybe just do not talk about it. Maybe there a lots of men who would love to be more open, emotional or talkative but supress it?

    The current feeling rules apparently put a lot of pressure on our society, to me we have more “duties” how to feel and the “rights to feel” are not matching our true emotions anymore (Hochschild, p. 564). I propose more honesty would lead to a situation where a wider variety of emotions are accepted in certain situations. Also being honest about not being able to explain certain bodily sensations and emotions and accepting maybe a “natural attitude” where we do not feel emotions (Hochschild, p. 560).

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  8. Managing emotions and engaging with ‘deep acting’ can be a difficult task, particularly when you are trying to suppress a negative emotion or evoke a positive one when you are unhappy. Whilst it is certainly not problematic that we sometimes experience negative emotions, for experiencing a range of different emotions is a fundamental part of being human, it can be inappropriate to express true feelings in some social contexts.

    If ‘emotional labour’ is the idea of having to work to suppress or evoke one’s emotions in a given situation then surely men and women both engage. Perhaps Hochschild is hinting towards more institutional flaws in the division of labour framework generally – that women are more likely to be working in industries where emotion management is necessary. But is this not a result of preconditioned career paths merely the result of how men and women are thought traditionally to have different skill-sets and talents?
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  9. I agree with Goffman’s idea that “people not only try to conform outwardly but do so inwardly as well.” We are constantly pressured by society to conform to social norms, and in order to conform, we are expected to control, or even change our emotions in certain situations in order to respect society. For example, I work in retail and am constantly expected to greet every customer with the same amount of respect. Although I may feel completely different emotions mid day than I would right before closing the store, I am expected to hide my emotions of boredom and put a smile on my face.

  10. Managing emotions are a part of life. We will all encounter a situation when we are in public that we feel like bursting into tears or yelling at someone. It’s not hard to control it, or leave the situation making you feel this way. I don’t see any issues at work, regarding gender/emotional divide. I never feel the need to force any emotions which are apparently expected of me. Nor do I care if I am not in the mood to “create a happy work environment” by using fake charm. Sometimes I think it’s more about how women themselves think they should act and how they want to be perceived within the workplace.

  11. I have held a job as a server/hostess at a local restaurant. I have been a member on a recreational club volleyball team. I had to adopt a few rules upon entering both of these arenas. Obviously, there were countless rules about making sure I did not engage in any illegal activity while at the restaurant or on the court. Interestingly enough, the next line of rules had to do with ‘managing emotions correctly’ and making sure that the ‘right emotions were exhibited at the right time’. In a more direct way, I was told to leave my problems at the door or else I wouldn’t be allowed to participate.

    I find that our discussions both in lecture and readings for this week prove that ‘emotion management’ is very much so a thing in our culture. I believe that bodies are required to manage and exhibit only predetermined emotions while at work despite differences in gender. However, in my own experience, I have found that women seem to be observed more while in these spaces. If a women is ‘too quiet’ one day, it might mean that she is carrying drama in from outside which will disrupt her ability to work. On the other hand, when men seemed to be more quiet it meant that they were simply tired. Ultimately, I think that we are consistently told that emotions must be monitored at various locations in our society, but some bodies must monitor those emotions more closely than others.

  12. Displaying emotion in the workplace is dependent upon many factors. Varying sectors may entail varying degrees of emotions. Hospitality may enable an individual to manage their emotions to portray happiness and consideration. I work in hospitality and it is important that negative emotions do not come into play at work. I don’t believe gender comes into play in my job, however I suppose if a female is especially hospitable, they often receive higher tips than men. I agree with Hochschild when explaining the ‘feeling rules’, however it is extremely contextual as to how these feelings are managed when comparing jobs. I think feelings are expected to be suppressed by all genders at work.

  13. I think a lot of people can claim that they manage their emotions, but will also claim gender is irrelevant to this process. In such a heavily gendered society, I fail to see how gender could be irrelevant to any social process—especially emotion. We have cultivated gender signals in children from the beginning, from promoting girls’ caring traits (just venture to the pink section of a toy store) to boys being told not to cry. We have been given emotional scripts to read off, instructions on how to manage your emotions correctly, and even when a person, for whatever reason, actively goes off-script, I believe they are reacting against their gendered script. These ‘feeling rules’ have become so ingrained in how people are meant to act that they have lost their status as rules, and have become seen as intrinsic to the person—“women are just better at caring” (for example).

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  14. I think people manage emotions constantly, and are only truly themselves around a person when they are asked deliberately how they are feeling and when you feel completely comfortable around that person. We manage emotions by cognitively partaking in emotional work constantly, and I feel there is no escaping managing emotions to make sure you don’t offend others or put yourself in an embarrassing or awkward situation. Or even when someone is asking you how you are feeling, there are social rules you have to abide by, especially depending on the person you are interacting with. I manage my emotions all the time, especially around people I am not very close with. It is hard to say whether I partake in more emotional work due to my gender, and I would think it’s pretty equal for genders. That may change if I was a stay at home spouse or parent and my partner was working all the time, or vice versa. Overall, I would summarize the level of emotional work as situational, although it does happen all the time.
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  15. I personally find that emotion management is something I do continuously every day in every social interaction. Whilst it is at work that ‘feeling rules’ are more explicit, being cheery and happy when greeting customers, hiding anxiety in a new job, trying to persuade your employer that you are confident in what you are doing and censoring your words when bringing up conflict with your bosses and fellow colleagues it is with acquaintances, friends, and sometimes even family members where the ‘feeling rules’ we abide by are more implicit and situational. I often find with new friends a sense of anxiety arising when in situations of conflict you are trying to subdue your emotional reactions to events whilst you observe the way others around you react. In order to maintain peace individuals will often down play their emotions. In another circumstance, I have personally experienced through having two brothers that speaking about your wrong doings and the negative emotions that rise from conflict contributed to by your actions such as sadness and loss, are often not easily discussed or displayed.
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  16. In The Guardian’s article, Rose Hackman translates the experience of her interviewee stating “She needed to be seen as kind and competent in order to be respected” I think this is a true summary of gender roles and emotional labour. When asking the question “Does your gender affect the way you manage your emotions at work and in other aspects of life?” the answer is absolutely. Men are expected to show minimal emotion – but of course it is okay to get angry, in fact if you don’t display some signs of anger you might as well disqualify your masculinity. Get angry, but don’t cry. Be a man.
    For women, it is the opposite – if she does not remain calm, kind and dismissive then heaven forbid she is a shrew, and what kind of woman who shows emotions of anger and determination could ever make a good wife?
    It sounds outrageous when simplified as such, but the concept is embedded deep within our societies and thus our own psyches. How we portray our emotions will often fall back on these societal concepts and will influence when, how and where we choose to display these feelings.

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