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Bringing Emotion to Work: Emotional Intelligence, Employee Resistance, and the Reinvention of Character

By Jason R.A. Hughes


This paper was published as Working Paper 44 by the Centre for Labour Market Studies, University of Leicester. It is available from only entryWithin the last decade, the concept of emotional intelligence (EI) has come to gain\ud currency within practitioner literature relating to, among other areas, leadership, training,\ud workplace assessment, and human resource management. The concept has already begun\ud to inform practice within these and cognate fields. This article centrally examines the\ud sociological significance of EI as a nascent managerial discourse. Through developing a\ud three-way dialogue between the writers Richard Sennett, Daniel Goleman, and George\ud Ritzer, it is contended that EI can be understood to signal ‘new rules’ for work involving\ud demands for workers to develop moral character better attuned to the dynamics of the\ud flexible workplace — character which is more ‘intelligent’, adaptive, and reflexive.\ud Furthermore, it is argued that while EI appears in some important respects to open the\ud scope for worker discretion, when viewed in the context of recent debates about the\ud corporate colonisation of workers’ affects and subjectivities, it might also signal\ud diminished scope for worker resistance. However, ultimately, the case of EI is used to\ud problematise recent discussions of worker resistance — to suggest the possibility of\ud ‘resistant’ worker agency exercised through collusion with, as well as transgression of,\ud corporate norms and practices

Publisher: Centre for Labour Market Studies, University of Leicester
Year: 2004
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