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'Intelligent Hearts': Emotional Intelligence, Emotional Labour and Informalization

By Jason R.A. Hughes


This paper was published as Working Paper 43 by the Centre for Labour Market Studies, University of Leicester. It is available from only entryOver the last five years in particular there has emerged growing interest in the concept of 'emotional intelligence' (henceforth EI), particularly within literature relating to occupational psychology, human resource management and training. In this paper I critically explore the rise of EI as a managerial discourse, and centrally consider the extent to which EI both signals and constitutes increasing demands for emotional labour. In addition, building on the expanding interest within the field of organisational sociology of exploring the utility of Norbert Elias's work, I analyse the ascendancy of EI as a set of ideas and practices within the context of processes of civilisation and informalisation. Through invoking the concept of informalisation, I argue that EI may invite an 'emancipation' of emotions within the workplace whilst simultaneously constituting shifting, perhaps increasing, demands for individually-nuanced affect managment and display. Similarly, I suggest that EI might facilitate greater worker 'alienation' whilst simultaneously offering the scope to expose the emotional tensions arising from alienation. Indeed, I propose that the case of EI helps to highlight the dialectical characteristics of civilising and informalisation processes

Publisher: Centre for Labour Market Studies, University of Leicester
Year: 2003
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